LOS ANGELES >> A man who was recorded confessing to the killings of two Chinese graduate students near the University of Southern California was convicted Monday of first-degree murder.
Javier Bolden, 23, was found guilty of shooting Ming Qu and Ying Wu as they sat in a double-parked car about a mile from campus on April 11, 2012. The killings drew international interest.
The murder charges carry special circumstances but prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty, so Bolden could face life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced on Nov. 17.
Bolden, who was in a white shirt, vest and glasses, showed no emotion.
He also was convicted of attempted murder and assault with a firearm in separate shootings that occurred months earlier that wounded two men and a woman.
Authorities said Bolden told a cellmate that he shot the 23-year-old engineering students. The cellmate was a police informant and secretly recorded Bolden discussing how he and a friend had planned to steal the couple’s BMW.
Defense attorney Andrew Goldman said his client lied to the informant to appear tough.
In February, Bolden’s friend, Bryan Barnes, who also shot into the locked car, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.
Fathers of the two victims came from China to speak at the Barnes sentencing, saying their son and daughter were in love and had planned to be married.
XiYong, father of Ying Wu, said her killing “shattered the dream and hope of our entire family into pieces and pushed us into the abyss of endless pain.”
The deaths fueled concerns in China about the safety of students abroad and spurred USC to provide more protection around campus.
Parents of the students have filed a lawsuit accusing USC of misrepresenting security at the campus, where nearly one-fifth of the 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China. USC says it has more international students than any other U.S. university.