Southern California

Slain USC Student Remembered at Memorial Service

The ceremony commemorated Xinran Ji, a student killed in botched robbery near the campus last week

Hundreds of students stood silent and solemn during a memorial service on Friday to remember USC graduate student Xinran Ji, fatally beaten in a botched robbery last week near the campus.

Professors praised Ji who they said stood out in a competitive engineering major.

"No matter how big the challenge is, he always maintained a positive attitude -- and a smile," said Yannis Yortsos, the dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Neighbor and friend Eric Liang said he will always remember that smile while trying to forget the morning he heard the terrible news.

"We are terrified," he said. "Really terrible."

Liang said many Chinese students chose to live in Ji's neighborhood because they heard it was one of the safest.

Ji was an only child because of China's one-child policy.

"I just don't dare to tell my parents about this," said Liang, also an only child.

Ji's family did not speak, but said in a statement, "Son, you can go with peace because your love for us gives us strength."

Ji, 24, an electrical engineering student, was attacked around 12:45 a.m. July 24 near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue.

He was walking home after taking part in a study group, and managed to make it back to his City Park apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, where he was found dead about six hours after the assault.

Two adults and two juveniles have been charged with the killing.

Ji's parents, Songbo Ji and Jinhui Du, cried uncontrollably on Thursday 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.

Jonathan Del Carmen, 19, and Andrew Garcia, 18, are charged with murder along with Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, in the attack on Ji.

Prosecutors said a baseball bat and wrench were used in the attack.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with one count each of robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for an alleged attack on a man and woman at Dockweiler Beach later that day.

The group allegedly robbed the woman, but the man managed to escape and flag down police, according to Deputy District Attorney John McKinney.

The criminal complaint includes the special-circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during an attempted robbery.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Del Carmen and Garcia.

Ochoa and Guerrero, who were charged as adults, cannot face the death penalty because they are under 18.

All four are jailed without bail, awaiting arraignment Aug. 12.

Del Carmen is believed to be in the country illegally.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich lashed out at State Department officials this week.

"It is unconscionable that suspect Jonathan Del-Carmen-Refugio, arrested for the murder of USC graduate student Xinran Ji, entered the country illegally -- yet the victim’s parents were delayed in entering the country legally to claim their son’s body due to failures in the State Department’s visa process," he said in a statement.

Earlier Friday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck addressed public safety at a conference hosted at USC. He talked about police forming stronger partnerships with the vast number of students, staff and surrounding community members around the university. He did not address the Ji's killing.

<a href="http://Kim Baldonado">Kim Baldonado and City News Service contributed to this report.

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