The 20-year-old man accused of shooting to death a couple in a Corona theater in July, Joseph Jimenez, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of murder on Monday, Sept. 27.
The pleas were made in Riverside Hall of Justice. Jimenez did not speak during the hearing.
In California, defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity still must be treated in a state mental hospital.
Jimenez would have to remain there, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham said, until he is judged to be sane and not a threat to the public. But unlike cases in which a defendant had been ruled incompetent to stand trial and later rehabilitated, Beecham said, Jimenez then would not continue to face charges.
His attorney, Charles Kenyon, requested two weeks to review a list of psychiatrists who could examine Jimenez. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has hired its own psychiatrist to examine Jimenez.
The attorneys are scheduled to return to court on Oct. 22 to discuss the appointment of a defense psychologist.
Kenyon declined to discuss with a reporter the decision regarding the pleading.
Enhancements to the murder charges of lying in wait and multiple murders make Jimenez eligible for the death penalty if convicted as charged. District Attorney Mike Hestrin has not yet decided whether to pursue that sentence, said John Hall, a DA’s spokesman.
District attorneys typically consider such factors as a defendant’s mental state, the circumstances of the crime, information from defense attorneys and the wishes of victims’ family members.
Jimenez, in a jailhouse interview with a Southern California News Group reporter, said he suffers from schizophrenia and that he heard voices that told him to kill the pair, which he wished he had not done.
Rylee Goodrich, 18, and Anthony Barajas, 19, along with Jimenez, were the only customers remaining in theater at the Regal Edwards cinema on July 26 after three friends of Jimenez fled when he retrieved a gun from his car and began talking to himself, authorities have said.
Barajas was a 2019 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana; he was an honor student, a soccer star and had lead roles in school plays. He had hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok.
Goodrich, a graduate of Corona High School’s STEM Academy in June 2020, was enrolled at Grand Canyon University in Arizona.
Jimenez, who graduated from Santiago High School in Corona, is not believed to have known the victims.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.