Anger and sorrow flooded Wanzhi Qu’s life two years ago after his son’s killing. The feelings haven’t gone away, and he doubts they ever will. But he thinks maybe an apology from one of the men convicted of the murder would help.
In a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Monday, he got the chance to ask for one.
Qu rubbed his eyes, which had dark bags beneath them, before demanding a show of remorse from Javier Bolden, who was sentenced Monday to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in the 2012 killing of Qu’s son, Ming, and another USC graduate student, Ying Wu.
“All we [can] do is … barely survive,” Qu said in his native Mandarin, which was translated for the court.
He described Bolden as “human trash” and a “vile monster” for his role in the killing of the 23-year-old graduate engineering students, who were shot while parked in a car near campus. The April 11, 2012, slayings made headlines around the world and prompted the university to increase its security.
A jury convicted Bolden of first-degree murder last month, and also of attempted murder and assault with a firearm in a separate shooting involving two victims outside a banquet hall in South L.A. a couple of months before the USC shooting.
Before sentencing Bolden, Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus called the case one of the saddest he had ever presided over, saying he thought Bolden’s actions were “shameful.”
“This crime has stained the reputation of Los Angeles,” Marcus said, adding that he had been especially troubled by Bolden’s “cavalier attitude” during court proceedings.
The judge said he saw Bolden, 22, smile when Qu addressed the court about his loss.
“You should be hanging your head in shame,” Marcus told Bolden. “You have nothing to smile about.”
During much of the hearing, Bolden’s mother kept her head buried in her palms. But when the victim’s father said that his son and Wu were in heaven now, she nodded emphatically. Later in the proceeding, the judge said he hoped the victims were in heaven.
The two shootings marked an escalation in Bolden’s previous pattern of violence, which is laid out in a probation report.
In 2011, he was convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty and of threatening a school official, which earned him three years of probation and 21 days in jail.
In the threatening case, the report said, a female school security guard asked Bolden not to stand on a sidewalk near the school — a spot where numerous fights had broken out in the past. Bolden, who wasn’t a student at the school, left for five minutes but then returned and walked toward a campus entrance. When he noticed the security guard following him, the report said, he turned around, clenched his fists and threatened her.
“We can do this,” he said.
After his arrest in connection with the USC shooting, Bolden told investigators he and a friend had approached the students’ vehicle hoping to “get some cash.” During the trial, a prosecutor showed the jury a video of Bolden bragging about the shooting to his cellmate in jail, who was an undercover police informant.
As a bailiff escorted Bolden out of the courthouse in handcuffs Monday, Marcus offered one last admonition: “Think about what I said, Mr. Bolden.”
Bolden made no expression and kept walking. Then, just as he exited, he turned around and blew his mother a kiss.