Second defendant convicted in death of graduate student

A 21-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder on Thursday in the beating death of USC graduate student, Xinran Ji, making him the second defendant convicted for the 2014 case.

Jurors found Andrew Garcia guilty for his role in the killing of the 24-year-old electrical engineering student after two hours of deliberation. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.

Prosecutors say they are not seeking the death penalty, but Garcia could face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Garcia’s co-defendant Alejandra Guerrero was convicted of first-degree murder in October for her role in Ji’s death, and is awaiting sentencing. She was underage at the time of the attack and thus cannot face the death penalty.

The two other men charged in Ji’s death, Jonathan Del Carmen and Alberto Ochoa, are still awaiting trial.

Ji was attacked on July 24, 2014, while on his way from a study group to his off-campus apartment near the intersection at 29th Street and Orchard Street.

Video evidence presented at the trial shows Garcia, Guerrero, del Carmen and Ochoa pulling up in a car and getting out to approach Ji.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said that the four co-defendants confronted Ji in an attempted robbery and struck him multiple times with an aluminum baseball bat and a wrench. Once Ji ran away, McKinney said Garcia took the baseball bat, caught up to Ji and continued beating him with it. Shortly after, prosecutors say the four co-defendants fled the scene.

Following the alleged attack, Ji was able to return himself to his apartment, but was found dead by his roommate the next morning. Medical reports indicate that Ji suffered skull fractures, facial lacerations, and a broken nose.

Garcia, Guerrero, Del Carmen and Ochoa were arrested a few hours after the attack on Ji, after another alleged robbery and beating victim of the four co-defendants at Dockweiler State Beach was able to call the police and identify them.