A man was convicted of first-degree murder yesterday for killing two Chinese graduate students at the University of Southern California two years ago.
Twenty-two-year-old Javier Bolden will face a life sentence without parole, the LA Times reports. Sentencing is set for November 17.
On April 11, 2012, victims Ying Wu and Ming Qu, both aged 23, were shot while sitting inside a locked car parked on a street near the USC campus. The case made international headlines and prompted a campaign for heightened security on the school’s campus and surrounding area.
The death of Wu and Qu, both engineering students, likewise triggered fears in China about the safety of students pursuing an education abroad. USC boasts the largest foreign student population out of any US college, and around 3,000 of its 8,000 international students are from China, the Times reports.
The verdict was decided after a six-day trial in an LA courtroom, wherein prosecutors showed a video of detectives interrogating Bolden. After initially evading investigators’ questions, Bolden admitted that he’d been at the scene of the crime.
He then drew a diagram of where the victims’ BMW had been parked when he and a friend approached the vehicle, hoping to “get some cash.”
Bolden’s attorney, Andrew Goldman, told the jury of seven women and five men that his client hadn’t really been at the crime scene that night, but that he felt pressured into making a false confession after the detective brought up the death penalty.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Dan Akemon argued that some of the most damning evidence in the case was a wiretapped phone conversation in which co-defendant Bryan Barnes asked Bolden if he remembered the time they “ran up on them little Asian people.” […]
Jurors also watched a video of Bolden bragging about the shootings to his cellmate, a police informant, in jail. Seated on a bunk bed, Bolden told his cellmate that he watched as Barnes shot the two students.
“The passenger just slumped,” he said.
Bolden’s attorney said that his client had made up these stories to appear tough in front of other cellmates.
Barnes, also 22, pleaded guilty on February 5 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Family members of Wu and Qu called for the death penalty for both murderers back in February, but prosecutors chose not to seek the punishment for Bolden.
Goldman has maintained that his client is not guilty on these charges and said he plans to appeal.