Arraignment postponed in movie theater killing of TikTok star

·4 min read

An arraignment for the 20-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting two people in a Corona movie theater has been postponed until Sept. 27.

The charges against Joseph Jimenez of Corona have been amended to include a second murder count after TikTok star Anthony Barajas, 19, died Friday at a hospital.

Barajas and Rylee Goodrich, 18, were watching “The Forever Purge,” a horror film that features a night of lawlessness and killing, on July 26 when Jimenez shot each of them in the head execution-style, according to prosecutors.

Goodrich died at the scene.

The suspect and victims did not appear to know each other, said Corona police, who have described the shootings as "an unprovoked attack."

Barajas, a graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, had nearly 1 million TikTok followers, who came to know him through his lip-sync videos, skits with his friends and musings on relationships and heartache.

In Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday morning, Jimenez wore an orange jail shirt and pants with a white mask.

He answered "yes" when Judge Ronald L. Taylor asked whether he was willing to postpone the arraignment. The delay had been requested by both the prosecution and defense.

Jimenez's attorney, Charles Kenyon, asked the judge for an order barring anyone besides attorneys from visiting Jimenez in jail and also asked that his client see mental health professionals.

On Wednesday, the Riverside Press-Enterprise published an article based on a jailhouse interview with Jimenez.

Jimenez told the newspaper that he heard voices in his head saying his friends and family were going to be killed.

Asked if he believed that killing Barajas and Goodrich was the only way to save his loved ones, he responded, "Basically, yeah."

Jimenez said he had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia but had stopped taking his medication because he ran out of pills.

At Thursday's hearing, Kenyon said it was “very disturbing” that a reporter had been allowed to enter the jail and interview his client.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin Beecham asked that search warrants in the case be sealed after the media reported on their contents.

Taylor agreed that the jailhouse interview violated attorney-client privilege. He said he would support a motion to limit access to Jimenez and also agreed to seal the search warrants.

In addition to the two counts of murder, the charges against Jimenez include a special circumstance of multiple murder and a special circumstance of lying in wait because he sneaked up and attacked the victims, district attorney's spokesman John Hall said outside the courthouse after the hearing.

The charges make him eligible for the death penalty.

In a search warrant obtained by The Times, Corona Det. Jason Goudy said six people were in the audience for the 9:35 p.m. showing of "The Forever Purge" on July 26.

Jimenez watched the movie with three friends. He left halfway through, returning with a bag and informing them that he had a "strap," according to the warrant.

The friends told investigators that they believed Jimenez, who was mumbling and talking to himself, had brought a gun into the theater.

They told him they needed to use the bathroom, then left the theater, the warrant said. That left only Barajas and Goodrich inside with Jimenez.

Jimenez's friends were still in the parking lot when they saw him “run outside the theater and run to his vehicle” and speed away, according to the warrant.

As employees cleaned the theater after the movie, they found “two victims with substantial amount of blood and could not tell if they were alive," the warrant said.

The male victim had a gunshot wound to the head “with several projectiles lodged in his brain area.”

Among the items detectives found in a search of Jimenez's home were a Glock handgun and a victim's wallet.

In the jailhouse interview, Jimenez told the Press-Enterprise that he walked up behind the victims, shooting Barajas first.

Goodrich "sort of jumped," and he shot her, then ran from the theater, his heart beating rapidly, the newspaper reported.

Jimenez, a graduate of Santiago High School, said that if he could relive the night of the shooting, he would have left the theater first and not come back.

He offered "condolences" to the victims' families.

"I wish I didn't do it," he said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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