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California man convicted of murders of Chinese USC graduate students

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[October 28, 2014]  (Reuters) - A Los Angeles man was convicted on Monday for shooting dead two University of Southern California graduate students from China during a botched robbery attempt in 2012, prosecutors said.

Javier Bolden, 22, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the slayings of 23-year-old engineering students Ming Qu and Ying Wu, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Bolden was also convicted for attempted murder and assault with a firearm for a separate shooting earlier that year, the attorney's office said.

Qu and Wu were shot to death early on April 11, 2012, as they were sitting in a parked BMW outside Wu's rented home, a few blocks from the USC campus.

Wu was found slumped over in the passenger seat, shot in the chest. Qu staggered out of the car to a nearby home, where he collapsed.

A second defendant, 21-year-old Bryan Barnes, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in February after pleading guilty to being the gunman.


The murders sent shockwaves through the campus. USC says it has the largest number of international students at any major U.S. university.

The campus was shocked again this year when 24-year-old Xinran Ji, an electrical engineering graduate student also from China, was beaten to death with a baseball bat during a robbery.

Four teenagers pleaded not guilty in August to the killing, which occurred near Ji's Los Angeles apartment several blocks from the campus.

Following Ji's death, the college announced a series of security improvements in August, the second major security upgrade at the prestigious private school since the murders of Qu and Wu.

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The slayings have ignited a debate over whether USC and the Los Angeles Police Department had provided adequate security in the neighborhoods surrounding the urban campus.

University officials said the moves, which include increased deployments of so-called neighborhood ambassadors, expanded car escorts and upgraded video monitoring, further improved what they termed one of the most sophisticated safety programs in higher education.

Bolden is set to be sentenced on Nov. 17, the attorney's office said. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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