US man sentenced to life for killing Chinese student at University of Southern California

A photo of University of Southern California (USC) graduate student Ji Xinran following a memorial service for Ji, at Newman Hall on the USC campus in Los Angeles, California.
A photo of University of Southern California (USC) graduate student Ji Xinran following a memorial service for Ji, at Newman Hall on the USC campus in Los Angeles, California.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A judge in California sentenced a 21-year-old man to life in prison on Wednesday (Aug 16) in connection with the death of a university graduate student from China.

Andrew Garcia is the second person convicted in the July 2014 killing of Ji Xinran, a 24-year-old electrical engineering student at the University of Southern California (USC).

Two other people are awaiting trial in the case, which rattled the university's Chinese community and prompted the school, located in downtown Los Angeles, to boost security.

Ji was beaten by his attackers and hit with a baseball bat and a wrench as he walked home from a study group late on July 24, 2014, the authorities said.

He managed to flee and stagger back to his apartment, where he was found dead hours later by a roommate.

Prosecutors said his attackers, who included a teenage girl, targeted him because he was Chinese and they thought he had cash on him.

Several members of Ji's family, some of whom travelled from China, tearfully read statements on Wednesday during the sentencing hearing for Garcia, who showed no emotion.

Ji's killing took place two years after two other USC students from China were shot to death during a robbery as they sat in a car.

Nearly 5,000 of USC's international student population of 10,500 are from China, according to the school's website.