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Alleged Gunman Accused Of Killing TikTok Star, Student At 'Purge' Screening Pleads Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity
Riverside County prosecutors haven’t yet indicated if they’ll seek the death penalty against Joseph Jimenez.
The California man charged in a movie theatre slaying of two teens earlier this summer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in court this week.
Joseph Jimenez, 20, was arraigned on Tuesday in Riverside Superior Court, according to online court records. He’s pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder by reason of insanity in the deaths of 18-year-old Rylee Goodrich and 19-year-old TikTok star Anthony Barajas the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office confirmed.
On July 26, Jimenez allegedly opened fire at Regal Edwards Corona Crossings mall in Corona during the screening of the violent dystopian horror franchise “The Forever Purge.” Jimenez was arrested in July after the deadly shooting.
Prosecutors, who contend Jimenez laid in wait to commit the two murders, have filed two special circumstance allegations, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. If convicted, this could lead Jimenez's sentence to be upgraded from life in prison to the death penalty, though it's unclear if that will be pursued.
“DA Hestrin will decide at a later date whether or not to seek the death penalty in this case,” John Hall, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday.
Goodrich and Barajas, who were both shot in the head, were found by theater employees around 9:35 p.m. Goodrich was pronounced dead at the scene. Barajas died from his injuries five days after the shooting.
Jimenez was arrested after investigators received an anonymous tip connecting him to the pair of killings. Only half a dozen tickets had been purchased for the screening at the theatre complex southeast of Los Angeles.
Authorities initially described the shooting as an unprovoked attack. Jimenez wasn’t aware of Barajas’ social media fame, police previously said.
“The victims were shot without any kind of prior contact,” Corona police Cpl. Tobias Kouroubacalis said in July.
Under questioning, Jimenez, who said he’d recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, allegedly admitted he’d been haunted by voices in his head in the months leading up to the shooting.
“The voices said my friends and family were going to be killed,” Jimenez told investigators, KMIR-TV reported.
Barajas has almost 1 million followers on TikTik and another 65,000 followers on Instagram.
The shooting, which drew comparisons to the 2012 massacre at a theatre in Aurora, Colorado, in which a dozen people were gunned down at the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” came days before the mass shooting’s ninth anniversary.
Jimenez’s next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22 regarding the appointment of a defense doctor. He’s being held without bail at Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, according to online jail records.