Videos show at­tack on USC stu­dent

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The last night of Xin­ran Ji’s life can be told in the videos that tracked the Chi­nese grad­u­ate stu­dent from the time he left his apart­ment to study with other stu­dents at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia un­til he re­turned home hours later cov­ered in blood.

In be­tween those still frames taken out­side his apart­ment, po­lice found two cam­eras that cap­tured footage of a group of teens at­tack­ing him as he walked home from school early the morn­ing of July 24.

The footage was shown Tues­day in Los An­ge­les Su­pe­rior Court as a pros­e­cu­tor made his case for try­ing three teens for mur­der in the in­ci­dent that raised con­cerns in China about the safety of stu­dents abroad and re­fo­cused crit­i­cisms about se­cu­rity at USC.

De­tails were murky in the black and white surveil­lance videos, but they showed Ji be­ing sur­rounded by a group of peo­ple on a dark street and then, in a sub­se­quent video, be­ing chased as he ran for his life.

“You can just see a scrum, it looks like,” Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney John McKinney said dur­ing a break in court, de­scrib­ing one of the videos.

Au­thor­i­ties say Jonathan Del Car­men, 19; Al­berto Ochoa, 17; and Alejandra Guer­rero, 16, were try­ing to rob Ji, 24, when he was beaten with a bat and wrench and left for dead.

A fourth de­fen­dant, An­drew Gar­cia, 19, is charged, but his hear­ing was post­poned be­cause his lawyer was ill and another de­fense at­tor­ney raised ques­tions about his men­tal com­pe­tency. Gar­cia blurted out ob­scen­i­ties in court Mon­day.

All four have pleaded not guilty and are be­ing held with­out bail. Del Car­men and Gar­cia could face the death penalty if con­victed. Ochoa and Guer­rero are charged as adults, but they can only face up to life in prison with­out the pos­si­bil­ity of pa­role if con­victed be­cause of their ages.

The pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing that con­tin­ues Wed­nes­day in­cluded a wit­ness who tes­ti­fied about be­ing robbed by three of the de­fen­dants about an hour after Ji’s killing.

But the brunt of tes­ti­mony fo­cused on videos and a trail of blood that led from Ji’s apart­ment to two street lo­ca­tions where the con­fronta­tion footage was shot.

Ji man­aged to make it home, where he was found dead in bed later that morn­ing.

Ji’s room­mate said she awoke around 3 am and heard snif­fling, but thought Ji had a cold, so she went back to sleep, De­tec­tive Matthew Court­ney tes­ti­fied. When she emerged from her room four hours later, she found blood stains and Ji un­re­spon­sive and cov­ered in bloody cloth­ing.

Court­ney and his part­ner tracked the bloody trail down the street and around the cor­ner, where they even­tu­ally found a pair of bro­ken glasses.

The de­tec­tive and other of­fi­cers went to USC and sev­eral other pri­vate build­ing own­ers to gather at least seven videos that showed the at­tack on Ji or his al­leged as­sailants driv­ing through the neigh­bor­hood be­fore or after the crime.

Cam­eras have be­come a ubiq­ui­tous wit­ness to life around the cam­pus that sits on the edge of down­town Los An­ge­les and bor­ders neigh­bor­hoods with his­tor­i­cally high crime. The school and Los An­ge­les po­lice beefed up se­cu­rity mea­sures, in­clud­ing more pa­trols on and around cam­pus, after two Chi­nese grad­u­ate stu­dents were mur­dered out­side an off-cam­pus apart­ment in 2012.

Video from the lo­ca­tion where Ji was first at­tacked showed a car pull to the side of the road and a group of peo­ple sur­round him in the street. McKinney said one of the men can be seen hit­ting Ji with a bat.

The stu­dent is able to get away, and a sec­ond cam­era caught him as he turned a cor­ner with two oth­ers run­ning after him, fol­lowed by a car.

The sec­ond video lasts longer, but most of the ac­tion is ob­scured un­til Ji stum­bles to his feet and leans on a car for a few seconds.

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