State Supreme Court Won't Hear Case of Man Convicted of USC Student's Murder

Xinran Ji, 24, was killed near USC's University Park campus on July 24, 2014

The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a young man convicted for his role in the beating death of a USC graduate student from China who was attacked near campus while walking back to his apartment after a study session.

Andrew Garcia -- who is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole -- was one of four people convicted of charges stemming from the July 24, 2014, attack on Xinran Ji.

The 24-year-old electrical engineering student was able to stagger away from the attack scene and reach his nearby apartment, where he was found dead by one of his roommates.

Jurors found Garcia guilty of first-degree murder, along with finding true the special circumstance allegation of murder during an attempted robbery and an allegation that he personally wielded a baseball bat during the attack.

He was also convicted of one count each of robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for an attack on a man and woman at Dockweiler State Beach about two hours after Ji was targeted. Garcia was 18 at the time of the crimes.

In a May 13 ruling, a three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense's contention that there were errors in Garcia's trial.

"The evidence that Garcia brutally beat Ji during an attempted robbery was overwhelming, supported by surveillance footage of the attack, Garcia's own statements concerning the robbery, and substantial physical evidence," the appellate court panel noted in its 21-page ruling.

Co-defendants Alberto Ochoa and Alejandra Guerrero -- who were 17 and 16 respectively at the time of the crime -- were also convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.

The getaway driver, Jonathan Del Carmen, who was 19 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life behind bars.

Their appeals are pending.

Rose Tsai, a representative for the victim's parents, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli at Ochoa's sentencing in March that "their only child, the joy and pride of their lives and the hope of their future" was senselessly killed.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney previously told reporters that the attack on Ji was "incredibly brutal."

"Mr. Ji suffered through a nightmarish and hellacious beating. The coroner described the blows to his head as blows that he typically sees in high-impact car accidents," the prosecutor said last year, noting that Ji was attacked while walking alone near the campus after walking a fellow student home following a study group meeting.

Ji's killing occurred two years after two other USC graduate students from China were shot to death during an April 2012 robbery as they sat in a car that was double-parked on a street near the USC campus.

Two men -- Javier Bolden and Bryan Barnes -- were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killings of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, who were both 23.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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