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Arraignment postponed in student murder trial

first_imgThe arraignment for three of the four defendants charged with the murder of USC graduate student Xinran Ji was postponed Tuesday.Judge James R. Brandlin said the arraignment will now take place May 14.Jonathan Del Carmen, Andrew Garcia, Alejandra Guerrero and Alberto Ochoa are charged with attacking Ji, a 24-year-old engineering graduate student who was walking home from a study group in July.Ji was beaten with a baseball bat during an attempted robbery. He returned to his apartment where he died a few hours later as a result of his injuries.Though all four defendants will be tried as adults, only Del Carmen and Garcia are eligible for the death penalty.  Guerrero and Ochoa were minors when the crime was committed.Garcia was not present in court on Tuesday. In February, he underwent evaluation and a mental competency hearing. The court determined he was fit to stand trial. Garcia’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 29, after which prosecutors said he will likely join the three other defendants for arraignment.Christopher Chaney, Ochoa’s attorney, said multiple continuances are common in cases where the death penalty is involved. The District Attorney’s office must prepare a memo outlining a suggested punishment and that memo is then sent to a committee for a final decision.Rose Tsai, the attorney for Ji’s family, said her clients are following the case closely and hoping for the most severe punishment possible.“The last thing they want is their son to have lost his life in vain,” Tsai said. “They’re hoping justice will be done in this case and it will serve as a deterrent so situations like this won’t happen to any other students.”Tsai said Ji’s parents have also spoken with Deputy District Attorney John McKinney about the trial but have yet to decide if they will come from China to Los Angeles for the proceedings.The trial must begin within 60 days of the arraignment.Since Ji’s murder, the university and the Dept. of Public Safety instituted several new security measures including year-round employment of off-campus security personnel, increased nighttime patrols and enhanced analytics for video camera monitoring. In November, DPS launched the mobile safety app LiveSafe.Despite the fact that the murder victim was a USC student and the crime occurred only a few blocks from campus, Chaney, who is also a USC alumnus, maintains that the defendants did not target USC or its students specifically.“It’s not ‘the USC case,’” he said. “It’s just a case that happened near USC.”last_img read more

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