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3 charged with murder in USC student’s death face hearing

    Andrew Garcia, left, is led out of the courtroom by Sheriff's bailiffs after an outburst during an appearance in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, as one of four defendants being charged in connection to the 2014 beating death of USC graduate student Xinran Ji during an attempted robbery.

LOS ANGELES >> Three of four teens charged with fatally beating a Chinese graduate student at the University of Southern California last year appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court for a hearing Tuesday to determine if they will face a murder trial.

The defendants are charged with killing Xinran Ji, 24, as he walked home to his apartment near campus after studying with other students.

Authorities allege Jonathan Del Carmen, 19; Andrew Garcia, 19; Alberto Ochoa, 17; Alejandra Guerrero, 16, were trying to rob Ji when he was beaten with a bat and wrench and left for dead. Ji was able to make it to his apartment, where a roommate later found him dead from his wounds.

Proceedings against Garcia were postponed because his defense attorney was ill Tuesday.

Del Carmen and Garcia could face the death penalty if convicted. Ochoa and Guerrero are charged as adults but can only face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted because of their ages. All four are being held without bail.

The July killing renewed criticism about the safety of Chinese students at USC. China’s consulate general said it was concerned about student safety at the campus.

The school and Los Angeles police beefed up patrols on and around campus after two Chinese graduate students were murdered outside an off-campus apartment in 2012. The university is surrounded by historically high-crime neighborhoods.

Until last year, USC had recruited the highest number of foreign students in the country for more than a dozen years. It dropped to No. 2 behind New York University, according to a survey by the Institute of International Education, though it remains very popular with students from abroad. About 40 percent are from China.

After beating Ji, three of the suspects went to the beach and tried to rob a couple, police said.

Ji enrolled at the university in 2013 after excelling at one of China’s best universities, where he won a prize for mathematical modeling.

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