Trial resumes in case of slain USC grad student
The trial of a woman charged with the murder of a USC graduate student continued Tuesday at the Clara S. Foltz Criminal Justice Center downtown.
Alejandra Guerrero, who was 16 at the time of the murder but is being tried as an adult, is accused of homicide in the case of Xinran Ji, who was murdered when walking home alone near campus on July 24, 2014. Three others have also been accused of the murder and will be tried in November.
In Tuesday’s court proceedings, Antonio Soria, a security systems administrator at the Department of Public Safety, explained the location of the crime and showed which cameras were surveyed during that time.
A black-and-white video showed the initial contact between the suspects and Ji near 29th St. and Orchard Avenue. In the video, a vehicle pulled up along the curb and turned its lights off. When Ji passed by, three figures jumped out of the car and followed him. After a short altercation, Ji started running first toward Orchard Avenue, but was caught by the suspects and killed.
The prosecution called Odey Ukpo, who has conducted close to 700 autopsies from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, to the stand. Ukpo confirmed that Ji’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head. Graphic images of Ji’s face were then shown, and Ukpo explained the possible causes of each abrasion and contusion found on Ji’s body.
When the defense had the opportunity to cross-examine Ukpo, they argued that he did not conduct the initial check of Ji the night of the murder and that his comments were not completely accurate, as they are based solely on the images the coroner’s office provided him.
The trial will continue Wednesday as Claudia Rocha, who made the initial report that led to the four teenagers’ arrest the night of the murder, takes the stand as another witness for the prosecution.
Oksana Trifonova and Miranda Myers contributed to this report.