Two teenagers and two adults charged with capital murder in the beating death of a 24-year-old USC graduate student pleaded not guilty Tuesday as dozens of students rallied outside the courthouse.
Jonathan DelCarmen, 19, Andrew Garcia, 18, Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, are charged with one count each of murder with the special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery, prosecutors said.
Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also each charged with using a dangerous weapon -- a bat -- to attack Xinran Ji, officials said.
The attack happened July 24 when Ji, an engineering graduate student, was walking home from an off-campus study group about 12:45 a.m. near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, Los Angeles police said.
Ji was beaten and struck in the head with a bat before he walked back to his apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, leaving a trail of blood, police said. Ji's roommate found his body about 7 a.m..
"The parents are obviously very, very concerned about the criminal prosecution of the individuals who are charged with the crime committed against their only child," family attorney Rose Tsai said.
"I just came here to support them," USC student Hao Zhang said outside the courthouse. "I dont want another crime like this to happen again."
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Ji's parents, Songbo Ji and Jinhui Du, cried uncontrollably on July 31 during a press conference at the Chung Wah funeral home in Alhambra.
They arrived in Los Angeles after nearly a week of delays due to State Department glitches and saw their son's body for the first time.
Daniel Deng, an attorney for the family, said Ji's death -- coming two years after the killings of two other Chinese students near the USC campus -- has raised safety concerns.
"If you do not do enough to ensure the safety of Chinese students, we will have no choice but warn our parents not to send (their) kids to USC," Deng said.
After the attack, university officials said additional security officers and so-called "security ambassadors" will patrol year-round the campus and areas where two deadly attacks left three students dead in two years.
The suspects are being held without bail and are due back in court Sept. 12.