One of two men charged in the fatal shootings of two USC graduate students from China pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder Wednesday, authorities said.
Bryan Barnes, 21, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty.
Before Wednesday’s sentencing, the fathers of the victims were in court and spoke of their loss, saying their families have suffered from the murders "for no reason."
Co-defendant Javier Bolden still faces trial on murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to return to court March 21.
Electrical engineering students Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23 years old, were shot as they sat in their car in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue on April 11, 2012. Police believe the slayings were the result of a botched robbery.
Barnes and Bolden were also wanted in connection with two other attempted murders to which both pleaded not guilty. Investigators used shell casings from Qu and Wu’s slayings to connect the suspects to the crimes.
The shooting happened about a mile away from the private university, situated in the West Adams neighborhood. Parents of the two graduate students filed a wrongful-death suit against the university which was later dismissed.
The graduate students were both from China.
USC is home to one of the largest foreign student bodies in the United States, with nearly 8,000 international students enrolled in the fall semester of 2012, according to school statistics. The majority of those foreign students were from China.
The university has created annual scholarships in honor of Qu and Wu.