One of four defendants in 2014 beating death of USC grad student sentenced to life without parole

Andrew Garcia, left, appears with a public defender in Los Angeles Superior Court on Jan. 12, 2015, in connection with the 2014 beating death of USC graduate student Xinran Ji.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

One of four defendants found guilty of fatally pummeling a Chinese graduate student at USC during a robbery in 2014 was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday.

Andrew Garcia, 21, was convicted in June of first-degree murder in the death of Xinran Ji, an engineering student who had been walking home from a study group when he was attacked in the middle of the night.

Garcia, along with co-defendants Alejandra Guerrero, 19; Jonathan Del Carmen, 22; and Alberto Ochoa, 20, attacked Ji with a baseball bat and wrench about 12:45 a.m. on July 24 because they believed he had money, prosecutors said.


Though Ji managed to escape the assault, a trail of blood traced the quarter-mile-long path he walked back to his apartment, where a roommate found him dead hours later, authorities said.

Guerrero, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was convicted in October of first-degree murder, robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. She also faces life behind bars but has not yet been sentenced.

Del Carmen and Ochoa have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Prosecutors said that after the attack Garcia and the rest of the group drove to Dockweiler State Beach, where they accosted and robbed a couple. Garcia was convicted of robbery for the beach incident, along with attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

Ji’s death rattled the university — particularly its Chinese community. Parents and family members of students gathered in Beijing, seeking answers about the brutal killing, and dozens of students descended on the downtown L.A. courthouse to witness the defendants’ hearings.

About 4,600 of USC’s 10,500 international students are from China, according to figures published on the university’s website.

Ji’s death came amid a string of violent incidents at the university. In 2012, two Chinese graduate students were shot and killed in a botched robbery near campus. Six months later, a man fired gunshots in the middle of campus, outside a Halloween party. The shooting injured four people, none of whom were USC students.


In response, USC improved security and added non-armed security “ambassadors” in off-campus neighborhoods. International graduate students were also required to complete a safety education program.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

Staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.


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