CITY NEWS SERVICE
Two men suspected in the shooting deaths of two USC graduate students from China during a botched robbery were charged Tuesday with capital murder.
Bryan Barnes, 20, and Javier Bolden, 19, are charged with the April 11 killings of Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23. The electrical engineering students were attacked while they sat in Qu’s double-parked, 2003 BMW in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, not far from the USC campus, during a downpour.
Wu was found in the passenger seat, and Qu, who apparently tried to run for help, was found on the steps of a nearby home.
Barnes and Bolden made a brief court appearance in downtown Los Angeles, but their arraignment was postponed until June 25.
The murder charges include the special-circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during the commission of a robbery, making both men eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide closer to trial whether to actually seek the death penalty.
Barnes and Bolden, who were arrested Friday and remain jailed without bail, were also charged with the attempted murder of a 20-year-old man during a Dec. 3 party in South Los Angeles.
Barnes is also charged with an additional count of attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm for allegedly opening fire during another South Los Angeles party on Feb. 12, injuring two people.
Police said shell casings tied both men to the USC shootings and the earlier shootings.
The parents of the slain students filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against USC last week. It claims USC “actively solicits international students, particularly from China, for its graduate studies program, for which it receives a substantial sum of money from tuition to help fund the university.” The lawsuit says USC’s website calls the university “among the safest of U.S. universities and colleges, with one of the most comprehensive, proactive campus and community safety programs in the nation.”
USC attorney Debra Wong Yang called the shooting a tragedy, but said there were no grounds for the lawsuit.
“USC is deeply saddened by this tragic event, which was a random violent act not representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus,” she said. “While we have deep sympathy for the victims’ families, this lawsuit is baseless and we will move to have it dismissed.
“As part of our support for the families we met with them and offered financial assistance as a gesture of kindness and sympathy. The attorney for the families subsequently instructed them to decline USC’s gesture and filed suit.”
The judge assigned to manage the lawsuit has disqualified himself because he has lectured at USC’s law school for the past nine years.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Segal, who was randomly assigned the case, removed himself Monday.
“The law school has compensated the judge for teaching, including for the current semester and perhaps next year,” a one-page minute order generated from Segal’s courtroom states.
The case will turned over to a supervising judge for reassignment.