Chinese rally at court for Ji

Updated: 2014-08-13 10:36

By Cindy Liu in Los Angeles (China Daily USA)

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The second round of public hearings in the murder case of a 24-year-old Chinese student at USC took place at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

One by one, the four teenage defendants - Jonathan Del Carmen, 19; Alberto Ochoa, 17; Andrew Garcia, 18; and Alejandra Guerro, 16 - entered pleas of not guilty to charges of brutally beating USC graduate student Ji Xinran to death on July 24.

Judge Renee Korn ordered the four held without bail until their next hearing, set to take place on Sept 12.

 Chinese rally at court for Ji

Connie Yu Rossi (third from left), president of CIMGCC (China Inner Mongolia General Chamber of Commerce in US), and representatives of Chinese students and local Chinese community gather together to support Ji's family at the second public hearing at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Huang Xilin / For China Daily

The court rejected media requests to videotape the hearing, claiming that the identities of the four defendants could not be confirmed because the court was waiting for surveillance video.

Ji, an electrical engineering graduate student, was attacked while walking back to his apartment near the campus around 12:45 am on July 24. He was found dead in his apartment hours later.

Rose Wen-Huei Tsai, attorney for Ji's family, told China Daily that she had hoped videotaping would have been approved. "The victim's family has very few friends in the US," Tsai said. "Thus their only support is from the jury."

"We know it might be postponed," she added.

About 200 students, friends and supporters - many of Chinese discent - crowded the courthouse waiting for the results of Tuesday's hearing. Some held large photos of Ji and signs that read "Justice for Xinran Ji".

Students from the USC Chinese Students and Scholars Association, who have been following the case closely, sent members to attend the court proceedings.

Scores of representatives from the Chinese communities of Irvine, Arcadia, Alhambra, Northridge, Rowland Heights and other cities also came to show their support.

Xiao Qiang, president of the Overseas Chinese Civil and Structural Engineering Association, used social media to rally support. Xiao told China Daily that about 50 people replied to him that they "would come" and he was pleased that more than 100 had showed up.

"We want the media to deliver our message of concern for the safety of our kids," Xiao said. "We want justice to be served. "

"Legal punishment is the only way to prevent this kind of crime from ever happening again," said Tsai.

Ji's family has received support from the China Inner Mongolia General Chamber of Commerce in the US, which is now calling for donations from the Chinese community in the US to support Ji's family.

"We can't risk our children's lives for their education," said Connie Yu Rossi, president of the chamber. "The Chinese community can't afford any more incidents like this."

Ji Yuxuan, a graduate student at USC, told China Daily that "all students should be united".

David Carlisle, deputy chief of USC's department of public safety, said: "I am here to support Ji's family. We will do as much as we can to strengthen safety on and around campus, especially in the first languages of the international students."

Carlisle added that his department would send representatives to each hearing of Ji's case "to keep all the students posted".

(China Daily USA 08/13/2014 page2)