World / Reporter's Journal

USC student murder: tragedy with a lesson

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2014-08-13 05:32

On his way back to his off-campus apartment on July 24, 24-year-old USC graduate student Ji Xinran was beaten to death by a group of four teenagers wielding a baseball bat and a wrench.

Police later arrested Jonathan DelCarmen, 19, and Andrew Garcia, 18, on suspicion of murder. Two juveniles — Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16 — were arrested on suspicion of murder, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery.

In their first court arraignment in Los Angeles last week, the four seemed very "emotional", the Los Angeles Times reported. "Ochoa fought back tears during the proceeding", while "Guerrero bowed her head trying to hide her face under her hair".

Despite the profound loss and suffering of Ji's family, Garcia's mother argued that her son was "innocent" and claimed "he is a good boy and had no intention of this (killing Ji) happening". Garcia's mother mouthed the words "I love you" to her son during the hearing, and Garcia shouted back, "I love you guys" to his mother and relatives as he left the courtroom.

It is for the courts to decide if Garcia's mother's claim that her son is "innocent" is a shameless defiance of the law and a ridiculous fabrication. How could an "innocent" young adult roam around late at night with a baseball bat and randomly take another life without reason?

"He (Ji) was literally beaten to death," Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said at an earlier news briefing. "I don't know why a group of young people would go on a crime spree as terrible as this."

USC student murder: tragedy with a lesson

Without uttering a single word of apology to Ji's parents, Garcia and his family's public display of affection has outraged the Chinese community in California.

"How could the killer be so cold-blooded?" asked one post on a social media group. "Let's do something together to help restore our belief in fairness."

Chinese community leaders in Los Angeles used social media this past weekend to urge more overseas Chinese to attend the defendants' arraignment on Tuesday.

One of Ji's relatives wrote in an online petition: "Your showing up not only will support our family, but convey a strong message from our community that we are very concerned about safety issues in the US and hereby ask the government to bring the criminals to justice soon."

Meanwhile, community leaders have stepped up efforts to alert new immigrants, especially new students from China, to familiarize themselves with the local environment and avoid notoriously dangerous neighborhoods.

"Safety first should be the creed for Chinese students and their day-to-day life in the US," said Dong Xudong, president of the North California Hebei Association. "For example, you need to stay off your cell phone and not use your iPod in public, because they distract you and lead you to not paying attention and straying blindly into dangerous situations."

"Also, you need to remember to pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of what is around you," said Dong. "For Ji, I'm not sure if he had been using this kind of diligence."

Compared to the scarcity of Chinese at the first court hearing, around 60 local Chinese showed up at 8:30 outside of the courtroom on Tuesday morning to show support for Ji's family. Community volunteers had made framed portraits of Ji Xinran and posters which were read "Justice for Ji Xinran".

"The barbarous killing of Ji has aroused great outrage in our Chinese community. We can't be silent anymore and watch the criminals walk away carefree," said an attendee who asked to remain anonymous. "They have to be punished."

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