LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A 20-year-old woman was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole while a co-defendant was given 15 years to life for their roles in the beating death of a USC graduate student from China who was attacked near the campus while walking back to his apartment after a study session.
Alejandra Guerrero was convicted in October 2016 of first-degree murder for the killing of Xinran Ji. Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of an attempted robbery, along with an allegation that she personally wielded a wrench during the July 24, 2014, attack on Ji.
Guerrero was also convicted of taking part in an attack on a man and woman at Dockweiler State Beach about two hours after Ji was beaten.
Co-defendant Jonathan Del Carmen, 23, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder for the attack on Ji.
Both Guerrero and Del Carmen apologized in court Friday morning before they were sentenced.
A third co-defendant, Andrew Garcia, 22, was sentenced last year to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 24-year-old electrical engineering student's killing. Garcia was convicted June 8, 2017, of first- degree murder and one count each of robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for attacking the man and woman at Dockweiler State Beach.
Another young man, Alberto Ochoa, now 21, is still awaiting trial in Ji's killing, along with the Dockweiler Beach attack.
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told jurors in Guerrero's trial that Del Carmen remained inside a vehicle after pulling over when Ji was walking near the USC campus. Garcia, Guerrero and Ochoa got out of the car to confront the victim, and Del Carmen drove around the corner as Garcia and Guerrero chased after Ji and continued the attack, during which Ji was beaten with a baseball bat.
Following the attack, Ji was able to stagger away and make his way back to his fourth-floor apartment, McKinney told jurors.
"He's dying. The fatal blows have already been inflicted. He doesn't know he's dying ....,” the prosecutor said of surveillance footage showing the victim returning to the apartment building where he was found lifeless by one of his roommates later that morning.
Prosecutors opted not to seek the death penalty against Garcia or Del Carmen. Guerrero and Ochoa could not face the death penalty because they were both under 18 at the time Ji was slain.
In Ji's honor, USC established a Xinran Ji Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a promising electrical engineering graduate student from China, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.
Ji's killing occurred two years after two other USC graduate students from China were shot to death during an April 2012 robbery as they sat in a car that was double-parked on a street near the USC campus.
Two men -- Javier Bolden and Bryan Barnes -- were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killings of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, who were both 23.