LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who was recorded confessing to the killings of two Chinese graduate students near the University of Southern California was convicted Monday of first-degree murder.
Javier Bolden, 22, was found guilty of shooting Ming Qu and Ying Wu as they sat in a double-parked car about a mile from campus on April 11, 2012.
The killings drew international interest and fueled concerns in China about the safety of students abroad. The crime spurred USC to provide more protection around campus.
Parents of the students have filed a lawsuit accusing USC of misrepresenting security at the campus, where nearly one-fifth of the 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China. USC says it has more international students than any other U.S. university.
Concerns surfaced again this summer when another Chinese student was killed.
The murder charges against Bolden carry special circumstances but prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty, so he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced on Nov. 17.
Bolden, who was in a white shirt, vest and glasses, showed no emotion. His mother, seated in a front row of the courtroom, doubled over in her seat and sobbed.
He also was convicted of attempted murder and assault with a firearm in separate shootings that occurred months earlier that wounded two men and a woman.
Authorities said Bolden told a cellmate that he shot the 23-year-old engineering students. The cellmate was a police informant and secretly recorded Bolden discussing how he and a friend had planned to steal the couple's BMW.
Defense attorney Andrew Goldman said his client lied to the informant to appear tough.
In February, Bolden's friend, Bryan Barnes, who also shot into the locked car, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.
Fathers of the two victims came from China to speak at the Barnes sentencing, saying their son and daughter were in love and had planned to be married.
XiYong, father of Ying Wu, said her killing "shattered the dream and hope of our entire family into pieces and pushed us into the abyss of endless pain."
Concerns about the safety of Chinese students at USC surfaced again this summer when four teens were charged with murder in the beating death of a University of Southern California graduate student with a baseball bat and wrench as he walked to his off-campus apartment after meeting with a study group.
Two of the suspects were juveniles charged as adults in the slaying of Xinran Ji, 24, an engineering student from China. He was able to make his way to his apartment despite being hit in the head with the bat. A roommate discovered him dead hours later.
USC's urban campus is within a mile of gang-plagued neighborhoods with historically high crime rates.
Since the 2012 killings of Qu and Wu, USC has added 60 security cameras, including some license plate readers, for a total of 178 cameras in a 1.8 square mile area that includes blocks off campus, according to USC Department of Public Safety Deputy Chief David Carlisle.
The university also deploys private security officers in the adjacent neighborhoods.
In addition, the Los Angeles Police Department has assigned about 30 more officers to the university community since 2012.