Competency hearing held for defendant in murder case


A competency hearing for Andrew Garcia, one of the four defendants accused in the July murder of engineering graduate student Xinran Ji, failed to reach a conclusion Tuesday morning at the Los Angeles Mental Health Courthouse.

Garcia’s attorney filed a request for a mental health evaluation after Garcia interrupted court proceedings with an outburst.

During the competency hearing on Tuesday, Garcia’s public defender requested a comprehensive mental report.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the judge ordered another competency hearing to be held on March 17.

Rose Tsai, the Ji family’s attorney, said Ji’s parents hope that the request is denied so a trial for their son’s murder can proceed.

“We are hoping that won’t happen because for the victim’s family, it just means more waiting, more frustration,” Tsai said. “So hopefully that won’t happen, but if it does happen, unfortunately it means at least for the time being, he won’t be able, according to the argument of his attorney or his own argument … to face the trial at this time. But it does not mean that he does not need to face the trial ever. He will still need to face the trial sooner or later, but it’s just a matter of delay tactics.”

The results of the mental health evaluation would only account for Garcia’s mental state at the present time and would not dictate his mental state at the time of the crime. The evaluation would impact Garcia’s ability to stand trial and could potentially prolong the length of trial proceedings.

Tsai also said that Ji’s parents hope the defendants are convicted and given tough sentences to send a message about the severity of the crime committed against their son.

“The other humble hope is that they don’t wish to have that kind of tragedy happen to anyone else’s child, so they are hoping the community can really pay attention to Xinran’s case,” Tsai said. “And hopefully through obtaining the most severe punishment [for] the defendants, it will give a message to our society and our community, which we all treasure and all want to be safe.”

Andrew Garcia was not present at the case’s preliminary hearing in January, but the three other defendants in the case, Jonathan DelCarmen, Alberto Ochoa and Alejandra Guerrero, were present and charged with Ji’s murder.

According to Tsai, the judge said there was “overwhelmingly sufficient evidence” for the prosecution to file charges against all three defendants. Their arraignment is scheduled for March 5.