Alleged wiretaps and recorded conversations were presented during opening statements Thursday in the trial of Javier Bolden, one of two men charged in the 2012 shooting deaths of two USC graduate students from China.
Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23, were fatally shot April 11, 2012, while sitting in a double-parked BMW blocks away from the South Los Angeles private university.
Bolden's co-defendant in the case and best friend, Brian Barnes, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the slayings in February this year.
Video of Bolden's confession was played in court Thursday by prosecutors. During the taped confession, Bolden could be seen saying Wu and Qu seemed like easy targets of a robbery.
"It was easy, and they'd most likely have more money than somebody that stays in Watts, Compton," Bolden could be seen saying in the confession.
Prosecutors also played recorded conversations allegedly between Bolden and an undercover informant.
"Did they see (your) faces?" the informant can be heard asking.
"No, they died," Bolden allegedly responded in the recording.
"How many shots?" the informant asks, to which the other person says, "Three."
"We believe that statement is not reliable," Bolden's attorney Andrew Goldman told jurors, adding that cellular telephone tower evidence was also "not conclusive to Mr. Bolden being there."
Prosecutors said shell casings from an earlier attempted murder in the same area a few months earlier matched the ones from Qu and Wu's shooting.
The opening statement from Bolden's defense team was brief as they asked the jury to keep an open mind, and that snippets of a conversation do not tell the whole picture.
"One of the detectives tells Mr. Bolden he could get the death penalty for this case, he might be put to death for this case," the defense attorney said. "Shortly after that, Mr. Bolden tells them what they want to hear."