Families of Chinese victims seek justice in US courts - and they are finding it

Updated: 2014-02-10 10:46

By Chen Jia(China Daily USA)

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For Chinese students headed for higher education in the US, safety concerns are becoming a top priority.

Insiders at overseas study agencies told China Daily the safety ranking of a school is now of more interest to Chinese parents than other major rankings, such as post-graduation employment rates.

China has passed India asthe topsource of internationalstudentsto theUS. Most of them were born in 1980s or 1990s, which means most of them are the only child in their family.

If parents lose their only child in an unexpected tragedy, they usually are too old to conceiveagain.

In China, parents who have lost their only child are known as shidu families, and the country's annual increase of the number of loss-of-a-single-child families is 76,000.

On Feb 5, 2014, two Chinese shidu families told a Los Angeles court about "the great devastation and loss" their families have suffered when their children - USC students Wu Ying and Qu Ming - were shot to death "for no reason" at the nearby campus in April 2012.

The case rocked the USC community and sparked public discussion in China, which moved USC to promise to improve campus security and provide more on-campus dorms for international students.

Last week, the parents flew to Los Angeles from China to witness one of two accused men - 21-year-old Bryan Barnes - plead guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and admit his robbery in the slaying of Wu and Qu.

"My daughter came to study in the USC with dreams and great expectations," said Wu Ying's father on Feb 5. "But she was killed by the murderer in this court on the night of April 11, 2012, just a few days before finishing her two years' study in the United States. She had even purchased her return plane ticket to China."

He said the killer didn't only kill his daughter, but also "took away her dream" and "destroyed the hope" of his family.

Calling for justice, both victims' fathers expressed their wish that the murderers be punished with the death penalty.

Families of Chinese victims seek justice in US courts - and they are finding it

However, the prosecution will not seek the death penalty in Barnes' case because he pleaded guilty. On Feb 5, the judge announced that Barnes will serve two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.

Qu, Wu's boyfriend, usually rode a bicycle to accompany his girlfriend home as she was leaving the lab. Both of them were 23-year-old graduate students in electrical engineering.

On April 11, 2012, he drove his second-hand BMW to pick her up because it was a rainy night. They were fatally shot while sitting in Qu's parked car.

Qu's father described his son as a straight-A student and brilliant young man, who came to the US with beautiful dreams only to die a tragic death.

"Since our son passed away, my wife and I wake up crying at night. In our dreams, our beloved son is covered in blood, crying out to us to get him justice," he said.

Yuan Dong, education consul from the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, told Xinhua News Agency that the final judgment shows the justice of law.

He also urged local authorities to strengthen public security and improve protection of the lives and property of Chinese and other minorities living in the area, the report said.

With no street camera record, Los Angeles police detectives found the gunmen through tracking down Wu's stolen iPhone through its GPS. The second suspect, 20-year-old Javier Bolden, awaits trial in his own case.

According to local media reports, Judge Stephen Marcus said there was "more than enough evidence" linking the two men to the killings.

Investigators said Barnes and Bolden could also be responsible for another shooting in which one victim was viciously struck eight times. They also linked Bolden to a shooting in which two people were wounded, said a report in the Los Angeles Times.

In another unrelated shidu family case, the family of 16-year-old Ye Mengyuan, who died in the crash of an Asiana Airliner in San Francisco last July, is suing the City of San Francisco claiming that at least five San Francisco Fire Department emergency responders knew where the injured Ye was before she was run over and killed by a fire truck.

Contact the writer at chenjia@chinadailyusa.com.

(China Daily USA 02/10/2014 page2)