An 18-year-old woman was convicted Thursday in the beating death of a Chinese graduate student at the University of Southern California as he walked home after a late-night study session. Alejandra Guerrero was the first of four people to be tried in the slaying of 24-year-old Xinran Ji during a robbery attempt in 2014. Guerrero was found guilty of first-degree murder and other charges.
Authorities said Ji was attacked with a baseball bat and wrench as he walked to his off-campus apartment after a late-night study group at USC. The electrical engineering student ran from his attackers, but they caught him a block away and continued the beating until he was on his knees.
Ji managed to stagger to his apartment, where a roommate found him dead in bed in the morning.
The killing renewed concerns about the safety of Chinese students at USC, where two other Chinese graduate students were killed in 2012.
In closing arguments, prosecutor John McKinney told the seven-woman, five-man jury that Guerrero “minimizes her own involvement” by saying she hit Ji on the hand with a wrench and lied when interviewed by police.
Guerrero – who was 16 at the time of Ji’s death – was tried as an adult. She could face up to life in prison without parole when she is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 28, City News Service reported.
Jonathan Del Carmen, 21, Andrew Garcia, 20, and Alberto Ochoa, 19, are awaiting trial separately in connection with Ji’s death. Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty against Del Carmen and Garcia. Guerrero and Ochoa can’t face capital punishment because they were minors at the time of the crime.
Authorities have said the four were driving around looking for someone to rob when they saw Ji. Surveillance cameras showed Ji being surrounded by a group of people on a dark street and then, in a subsequent video, being chased.