Lady Justice 4 16-9

A preliminary hearing for two men and two teens accused in the beating death of a USC graduate student from China near the campus was postponed for one day Monday because a defense attorney was sick.

“The people are ready today, we’ll be ready tomorrow,” Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told a judge.

The defense attorney for Andrew Garcia was sick, leading to the delay, according the attorney for co-defendant Alberto Ochoa.

Jonathan Del Carmen and Garcia, both 19, are charged along with Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, in the murder ofXinran Ji, Xinran Ji, who was fatally beaten while walking back to his apartment around 12:45 a.m. July 24, near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue.

As Garcia was being led out of a secure area of the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies, he turned and yelled to supporters in the audience, using an expletive to complain about serving time and shouting, “Can I go home now? … Playtime’s over.”

Someone from the crowd yelled back, repeatedly urging Garcia, “Relax, Andrew, we love you.”

The criminal complaint includes the special-circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during an attempted robbery, which makes Del Carmen and Garcia eligible for the death penalty should prosecutors decide to seek capital punishment. Ochoa and Guerrero, who are charged as adults, cannot face the death penalty because they were under 18 at the time of the alleged crime.

Ochoa will turn 18 on Jan. 23, and his attorney requested that his client not be transferred to county jail, but be allowed to remain in juvenile detention.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio Tapia denied the request, but said it could be reconsidered during tomorrow’s hearing.

The criminal complaint alleges that Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero used deadly weapons — a bat and a wrench — on Ji, who was beaten and struck on the head.

The 24-year-old electrical engineering graduate student, who was walking home after taking part in a study group, managed to make it back to his City Park apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, where he was found dead about 7 a.m. July 24. A trail of blood marked the path he walked.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with one count each of robbery, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for an alleged attack on a man and woman at Dockweiler Beach later that day.

The group allegedly robbed the woman, but the man managed to escape and flag down police, according to McKinney.
—City News Service

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