Jurors Begin Deliberating Man’s Trial in Fatal Cathedral City Shooting

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

INDIO (CNS) – Jurors began deliberating Monday in the trial of a San Bernardino man accused of fatally shooting a man outside a Cathedral City home in 2019.

Christian Isaiah Jimenez, 24, is charged with one felony count of murder in the Aug. 19, 2019, shooting of 21-year-old Alberto Rafael Sosa Alvarez. He also faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury.

Deputy District Attorney Jenna Barsamian told jurors during closing arguments Thursday at the Larson Justice Center the defendant didn’t hesitate to kill Sosa and left him, screaming in pain, to die.

“And then he came in this courtroom, he got on the stand and he lied about not remembering it. He lied about being scared, and he lied about being told that Alberto Sosa had produced a gun the night before,” Barsamian said. “He doesn’t get to do come in this courtroom and take the witness stand and tell you `I remember everything up to the killing yada yada yada, I heard a shot and Mr. Sosa was dead.”‘

Jimenez’s defense attorney, John Patrick Dolan, told jurors his client was only 20 years old at the time of the fatal shooting, which happened in a very chaotic set of circumstances that should be looked at with serious consideration because there was one person who was actually seen with a gun and who could be the real culprit.

“Mr. Sosa was shot dead and he’s deceased. There’s no question about that. It’s a tragic, awful situation. His poor family has got to be suffering from this,” Dolan said. “It’s terrible but you should not use that as a basis to find that Mr. Jimenez was responsible for that. You can find that there was a party going on … you can find that one person had a gun, a serious weapon which was never found.”‘

He concluded his argument by asking jurors to give the case serious consideration, to look carefully at the evidence, and to find his client not guilty of murder.

“Dolan is right. This is a sad case. These are sad circumstances,” Barsamian said in her rebuttal. “And the only verdict that truly fits what happened here is that he’s guilty of first-degree murder, and that he discharged the gun that caused his death.”

Jurors will began deliberating Monday.

Jimenez allegedly went to a small party in Cathedral City Aug. 18, 2019, with around six people unknown to the girl who was hosting the gathering, Barsamian said during opening statements. At some point, he 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. She saw the defendant with one of his friends inside 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 Sosa started approaching him and he made it known that he was armed.

“The defendant issued a warning, `I’ma 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.”

Dolan, however, said that 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. The attorney said that when Jimenez went to the bathroom, curiosity got the best of him and was immediately accused of stealing when he was found in her parents’ room.

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.”

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.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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