INDIO (CNS) – A San Bernardino man fatally shot a man outside a Cathedral City home in 2019 and left him screaming in pain in the street over stolen property, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday, but a defense attorney insisted that his client was wrongly accused and, in a haze of chaos, shot the decedent to avoid getting shot himself.
Christian Isaiah Jimenez, 24, is charged with one felony count of murder in the Aug. 19, 2019, shooting death of 21-year-old Alberto Rafael Sosa Alvarez. He additionally faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury.
Deputy District Attorney Jenna Barsamian told jurors during opening statements Tuesday morning at the Larson Justice Center that on the night of Aug. 18, 2019, the defendant went to a small party in Cathedral City with around six people unknown to the girl who was hosting the gathering.
At some point, Jimenez excused himself to go to the bathroom and when the girl saw the light on in her parents’ room she went to check on him, Barsamian said. She saw the defendant and one his friends holding a pair of her dad’s pants and believed they were stealing property.
The two fled the scene as she screamed to alert the other guests about what just happened, Barsamian said. The defendant returned to the home two times, once to pick up two friends and again shortly after midnight Aug. 19, 2019, when he made it known that he was armed and the victim started approaching him.
“The defendant issued a warning, `Ima pop you, get back,’ and then he started to count like he was a parent disciplining a child,” Barsamian told jurors. “Then he fired the fatal shot that killed Alberto Sosa … and he left him there, screaming in pain in the street, in the gutter, like trash that he was discarding. All over some stolen property.”
Barsamian said that at the end of the trial, she’ll ask jurors to find Jimenez guilty of murder and to find the enhancement true.
Jimenez’s defense attorney John Patrick Dolan then told jurors that they have a difference of opinion on what happened and that he’s going to ask them to reconstruct the past, the chaos of that night.
When his client arrived at the small gathering, the girl hosting let him know that the night prior, Sosa had a gun and showed it when he got involved in a confrontation with someone, Dolan said. The attorney said that later in the night when Jimenez went to the bathroom, curiosity got the best of him and he was found in her parents’ room, where he was accused of stealing.
Dolan told jurors that Jimenez kept saying he didn’t steal anything and left the party because he was being wrongfully accused. He subsequently returned to explain himself, when the victim began to aggressively approach his vehicle, Dolan said.
“Mr. Sosa is throwing insults at him, demanding that he give back the stolen property … and then this countdown took place, but the context of the countdown is important. … He’s counting down trying to give a fair warning,” Dolan said. “And then when the guy gets close enough to him, he shoots him. He shoots him because he believes he’s going to be shot by Mr. Sosa, that was what was in his mind.”
Dolan concluded his opening statements saying that his client did not commit a crime, that it was a tragic situation but that there was a lot of chaos involving drugs, alcohol, raging hormones and weapons.
Sosa was found suffering from gunshot wounds at about 12:50 a.m. on a sidewalk in the 68300 block of Madrid Road after police received multiple 911 calls about a disturbance in the area, according to the Cathedral City Police Department. Officers began life-saving efforts until paramedics arrived and took him to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where he died.
Jimenez was arrested Sept. 3, 2019 when he was tracked to a residence in the 1900 block of Clary Drive in Needles, according to police.
He is being held at the John J. Benoit Detention Center on $1 million bail.
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