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USC student murder case grinds on

Updated: 2015-01-30 09:59
By Cindy Liu in Los Angeles (China Daily USA)

A public hearing in the case of the July 24, 2014 murder of Chinese USC graduate student JiXinran took place at Clara Shortridge FoltzCriminal Justice Center in Los Angeles on Thursday morning.

Three of the four defendants- Jonathan Del Carmen, 19, Alberto Ochoa, 18, and Alejandra Guerro, 16- were present in the courtroom. Judge James R. Brandlin granted their attorneys' request to postpone the arraignment until March 4.

A trial must begin within 60 days of the arraignment.

Defense attorney Christopher C. Chaney said that an arraignment delay was not unusual since the death penalty was still a possibility in the case.

The preliminary hearing in the case took place in Los Angeles Superior Court on Jan 13-14. Prosecutors made their case for trying DelCarmen,Ochoa and Guerrero for murder and other crimes, including a robbery at Dockweiler State Beach a few hours after Ji's killing.

Footage captured by two security cameras near Ji's apartment and shown at the hearing showed a group of teens attacking Ji as he walked home after studying past midnight.

The fourth defendant, Andrew Garcia, 19, has also been charged with murder and robbery but after an outburst in court on Jan 13 a judge ordered a Feb 3 hearing to determine if Garcia is mentally competent to stand trial.

At Thursday's hearing, theaccusedrefused to plead guilty, requesting to be informed the sentencing results before deciding to plea.

JiXinran, the then 24-year-old Chinese electrical engineering graduate student at USC, was hit repeatedly with a bat during an attempted robbery around 12:45 am on July 24, 2014 as he walked to his off-campus apartment after a late-night study session.

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