Life without parole in USC murder case

By Ani Ucar and Celeste Alvarez

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Javier Bolden, the last defendant involved in the 2012 murder of two USC graduate students, Ming Qu and Ying Wu, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Monday morning.

Judge Stephen Marcus announced the decision about three weeks after a jury of seven women and five men found Bolden guilty in two counts of first degree murder as well as two other charges including attempted murder and assault with a firearm for a separate shooting of two victims at a party in February 2012.

Ming Qu's father speaks out after sentencing. (Ani Ucar/ATVN)

Ming Qu’s father speaks out after sentencing. | Ani Ucar/ATVN

Bolden looked unfazed as the judge read his sentence. He shook his head and looked back at his family in the courtroom, blowing them a kiss.

The sentencing comes after a six-day trial, which revealed evidence from a police informant who went undercover as Bolden’s jail cellmate. Bolden was recorded bragging to the informant about how he and his accomplice, Bryan Barnes, sneaked up and opened fire on Ming Qu and Ying Wu while they sat in a parked BMW. However, the bullets from Bolden’s gun apparently never broke the car’s glass. Javier sat as the sentence was read during his hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. For much of the trial Javier maintained emotionless while family members and supporters often sat in the audience.

(Ani Ucar/ATVN)

A filled courtroom witnessed the sentencing. | Ani Ucar/ATVN

LAPD forensics analyst Marissa Bowen testified that the bullet casings found at the scene came from only one gun. Although Bolden was never accused of pulling the trigger, his charges stemmed from a legal technicality known as the felony-murder rule, which suggest if two people are committing a felony and someone gets killed, both assailants are equally responsible for the death.

The murder accomplice, Bryan Barnes pleaded guilty in February to two counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in Barnes case. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

College sweethearts, Ming Qu and Ying Wu were both graduate students from China studying electrical engineering when they were shot and killed on a rainy April night while sitting inside Qu’s 2003 BMW, which sat double-parked in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, less than a mile from USC’s campus.

Following their murder, critics argued that both the university and the Los Angeles Police Department were not providing adequate security for students living around the campus. The parents of Qu and Wu also decided to sue USC on the belief the university mislead international students about the security measures in place around the school.

A judge later dismissed the case, but in response to the murders the university augmented security around campus by adding security ambassadors, staffed by Contemporary Services Corporation, and increasing Department of Public Safety patrols. The university also erected fences, sealing off the campus to non-students after 9 p.m.

Bolden’s attorney, Andrew Goldman, said they have already filed a notice of appeal. For now, the 2012 murder case of Ming Qu and Ying Wu has finally come to an end with both culprits behind bars.

Originally published on Neon Tommy and Annenberg TV News.

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