Accused Killers in USC Grad Student Shootings Plead Not Guilty

Two 21-year-old men pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder in the April 2012 shooting deaths of two USC grad students from China.

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Bryan Barnes, 21, and Javier Bolden, 21, shown in a Facebook photo, appeared in court Thursday.

Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden were charged in the violent deaths of Ming Qu and Ying Wu, who were both 23 when they were gunned down in front a home near the University of Southern California campus.

No cameras were allowed in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom where the pair pleaded not guilty, according to a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Police have described the crime, which made headlines around the world, as the result of a botched robbery of the students’ iPhones. The two graduate electrical engineering students were sitting in a parked BMW when they were attacked.

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Ying Wu and Ming Qu, both 23, were fatally shot as they sat in a BMW parked outside a house near the campus.

Evidence found at the scene of the shootings — the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue (map) – also tied Barnes and Bolden to earlier shootings at a party in South Los Angeles, according to Los Angeles police.

Barnes was charged with two counts of murder, as well as attempted premeditated murder in an unrelated December 2011 shooting.

Bolden was charged with: two counts of murder; attempted premeditated murder in the same 2011 shooting; and, in another unrelated shooting in February 2012, attempted premeditated murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm.

Both face multiple special allegations in connection with the charges related to the alleged robbery of Wu and Qu, as well as for the alleged use of firearms.

Barnes is being held without bail at the Men’s Central Jail downtown; Bolden is being held without bail at the North County Correctional Institute in Castaic.