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U.S. man found guilty of murdering 2 Chinese students

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- A man was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder on Monday for killing two graduate students from China during a robbery in this U.S. city.

Javier Bolden, 22, faces a life sentence without parole for the April 11, 2012, killings of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, both aged 23 and studying electrical engineering at University of South California (USC).

The two victims were shot while sitting inside a locked car that was double-parked on a street near the USC campus.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 17.

During opening statements, the jury saw the full video of detectives interrogating Bolden after his arrest. At first, Bolden denied he was at the criminal scene. Almost an hour into the interrogation, one of the detectives told Bolden that it could be a death penalty case, and that a lack of regret could make him look ruthless.

A moment later, Bolden changed course, admitting that he was near USC campus the night of the shooting. He indicated the position where the victim's car was parked, and admitted that he and another one approached the vehicle, intending to "get some cash." A recorded statement showed that Bolden once said Wu and Qu seemed like easy targets.

Qu crawled out of the vehicle and across the street to try to get help after he was shot once in the head. Wu was shot once in the left side of the body and once in her right arm.

Bolden's attorney, Andrew Goldman, thought the shooting was "horrible," but maintained that his client was not guilty of the charges and said he planned to appeal the conviction.

In his rebuttal argument, Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon countered that Bolden had provided "excruciating details" about the case and was "not making anything up."

"In the end, what we have here is we have a very compelling case of guilt against Mr. Bolden," Akemon said. "This is a mountain of evidence."

In his closing argument, Akemon told jurors that "the evidence of guilt in this case is overwhelming."

The two graduate students were "helpless victims" inside the car that presented an "attractive target," the prosecutor said.

He said Bolden and another man, Bryan Barnes, were "essentially ambushing" the couple and "counting down the seconds of the lives of these victims" as they approached the car from behind while communicating on cell phones.

Bolden was also convicted of attempted murder for a Feb. 12, 2012, shooting about three miles away in which a man who was shot in the head suffered permanent brain damage, along with an assault with a semi-automatic firearm on a woman who was shot in the leg by a stray bullet.

Barnes, also 22, fired two shots inside the car. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 5 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Wu's parents and Qu's father called for death penalty for the two murderers earlier in February. Prosecutors chose not to seek death penalty against Bolden.

Three months ago, Xinran Ji, another USC Chinese graduate student who was majoring in electrical engineering, was attacked while walking back to his apartment near the campus around 12:45 a.m.(0945 GMT) on July 24. He was found dead in his apartment hours later. A trail of blood marked the path Ji walked.

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