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A 20-year-old accused in the fatal shooting of a TikTok star and his friend at a Corona movie theater in July pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday.
Joseph Jimenez is charged with two counts of murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a firearm causing death. The Riverside County district attorney's office also filed a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders lying in wait against the Corona resident.
The charges, which make Jimenez eligible for the death penalty, stem from a July 26 shooting at the Regal Edwards Corona Crossings theater in the 2600 block of Tuscany Street. Six people were in the audience for a 9:35 p.m. showing of the film “The Forever Purge,” which features a night of lawlessness and killing, police said.
Among the patrons were Anthony Barajas, a 19-year-old TikTok star who lived in Corona, and Rylee Goodrich, 18, also of Corona. The two were on their first date.
Shortly before midnight as the film was ending, Barajas was shot in what police would later call an execution-style attack. Goodrich was targeted next — like Barajas, shot point blank in the head. Goodrich was declared dead at the scene, and Barajas died days later after being taken off life support.
Jimenez was arrested the following day after his friends told detectives he left the theater halfway through the film and returned with a bag, informing them he had a “strap,” according to a search warrant obtained by The Times. Investigators found a firearm that matched the caliber of weapon used in the shooting as well as “additional evidence related to the crime scene” at Jimenez's house, police said.
Authorities described the shooting as an “unprovoked attack,” and no connections have been made between Jimenez and the victims.
In a jailhouse interview with the Riverside Press-Enterprise after his arrest, Jimenez said that he heard voices in his head before he walked up behind Barajas and Goodrich and shot them.
Jimenez told the newspaper he had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia but had stopped taking his medication because he ran out of pills.
In California, defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity still must be treated in a state mental hospital.
Jimenez’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 28, the Riverside County D.A.’s office said.
Times staff writers Kevin Rector and Richard Winton contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.