Four teens pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges Tuesday in the violent beating death of a USC graduate student from China.
Jonathan Del Carmen, 19, Andrew Garcia, 18, Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, appeared at a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to enter their pleas.
They were ordered held without bail.
More than 150 fellow students of slain 24-year-old engineering student Xinran Ji were at the courtroom, the Los Angeles Times reported. No cameras were allowed.
Ji left a trail of blood back to his 30th Street apartment near the University of Southern California, after an apparent robbery attempt early early July 24, police have said.
Ji was returning from a group study session when he was attacked. He was found dead by his roommate about six hours after the assault.
Outside the courthouse Tuesday, supporters of the victim held signs with photos of him, some stating “Justice for Xinran Ji.”
Ji’s parents are very distressed, said Rose Tsai, an attorney for the family. They had visited an Alhambra funeral home to see their son’s body on July 31, openly weeping before news media.
“They lost their only child,” Tsai said. “Xinran was a … young man with a very bright future. … He is just full of sunshine.”
All four teens were charged with one count each of murder with the special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery; Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero were charged with a special allegation that they used a dangerous weapon, a bat, in the beating, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Court documents indicated a knife and wrench were also used to kill Ji.
After the attack on Ji, the four teens were also accused of driving to Dockweiler State Beach, where Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero allegedly robbed a woman.
Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero also were also charged with one count each of second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, a bat, in the second incident.
The teens were ordered to return to court Sept. 12.