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Teens Hoped Chinese USC Student They Robbed And Killed Would Be Rich

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The four teenagers charged with the murder of Chinese USC grad student Xinran Ji have all admitted to targeting the student in order to rob him. LAPD Det. Paul Shearholdt testified yesterday at a preliminary hearing that the teens confirmed they had targeted Ji as someone they could "flock," a word they used to mean rob, L.A. Times reports. Andrew Garcia, 19, told police that he and the other defendants spotted 24-year-old Ji after midnight on July 24 while they were driving on West 29th Street. Ji, who had come to the U.S. from China to go to school, had just finished with a study group. He was walking by himself and Garcia told the detective that they decided "because he was Chinese, he must have money."

After attacking Ji, Garcia and his companions—fellow defendants Jonathan DelCarmen, 19; Alberto Ochoa, 17; Alejandra Guerrero, 16; and an unidentified minor—drove to Dockweiler Beach and attacked two more people, who both survived. Garcia's preliminary hearing was delayed for a mental competency evaluation, and the minor is being charged as a juvenile for the Dockweiler Beach robbery only.

Shearholdt walked through the attack on Ji using the testimony from the defendants. He said that Ochoa said he meant to hit Ji with a bat, then go through his pockets, Neon Tommy reports. However, Ochoa actually punched Ji, who then tried to flee his attackers. Ochoa, Garcia and Guerrero chased him, knocked him to the ground, and then took turns beating Ji with a bat before DelCarmen, who'd been following behind in the car, picked them up and the group left Ji for dead.

Ji did make it back to his off-campus apartment, but he died of his injuries by morning. Louis Pena, a forensic pathologist who works at the L.A. County coroner's office, said that Ji was hit six times in the head with a bat. The blows from the bat had fractured Ji's skull and caused his brain stem to compress. Even if Ji had made it to the hospital, Pena believes he would have died.

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Ji's parents have remained in China throughout the legal proceedings, but their attorney Rose Tsai told Neon Tommy that this is because they're "very much recovering." She said they are upset with how slow the process is going.