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Attacker Gets Life In Prison For 2014 Beating Death Of USC Grad Student

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One of the four attackers in the 2014 beating death of a USC grad student was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The life term was given to Andrew Garcia, 21, who was convicted in June for the murder of 24-year-old Xinran Ji, an electrical engineering student at USC. Alejandra Guerrero, 19, was also convicted last October of first-degree murder for her involvement in the crime, reports CBS2. Two other men, 22-year-old Jonathan Del Carmen and 20-year-old Alberto Ochoa, are currently awaiting trial for their alleged connections to the murder as well.

Prosectors say that, at about 12:45 a.m. on July 24, 2014, Ji was walking home from a study group when he was approached by four attackers. Ji was beaten with both a baseball bat and a wrench, reports the L.A. Times. He escaped his attackers once, but they caught up with him and continued the assault. “They ambushed him. They caught him off-guard,” Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told jurors during the closing argument of Garcia’s trial, reports CBS2. Prosecutors said the defendants had acted on the impression that Ji had money.

Ji would head back to his apartment on the 1200 block of 30th Street, leaving a trail of blood that stretched about a quarter mile. His roommate would find him dead in their apartment at about 7 a.m. that day.

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Prosectors said that, after the attack on Ji, the four defendants drove out to Dockweiler State Beach and attacked a couple, robbing one of the victims and striking the other with a baseball bat. CBS2 reports that DNA testing determined that the bat used in the Dockweiler attack had Ji's blood on it.

While Garcia had initially downplayed his involvement to police (he said that Ochoa was the one who mostly wielded the bat), prosectors believe that Garcia had dealt a significant number of the hits. “The evidence suggests he (Garcia) inflicted most of the severe ones (blows),” McKinney said.

Ji's death became a focal point for the community of Chinese international students at USC (4,600 of the university's students are from China, notes the Times). Two years prior to Ji's killing, Ming Qu and Ying Wu—both 23-year-old engineering graduate students—were shot and killed in a botched robbery. Javier Bolden and Bryan Barnes were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2012 killings.