LOS ANGELES, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- An 18-year-old woman was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder for the death of a Chinese graduate student at the University of Southern California (USC) in 2014.
Alejandra Guerrero, 16 years old at the time of the attack, was the first of four people to be tried for attacking Xinran Ji, a USC electrical engineering student from China, near the school campus in an attempt to rob Ji for money.
Though Guerrero was a juvenile at the time of the crime, she was prosecuted as an adult despite the special circumstances allegation. The jury convicted Guerrero of first-degree murder, and she is facing a possible sentence of 25 years to life in prison, which will be decided on Nov. 28.
"Though Ji's family will never get to see their beloved son again, this should help his family find a little peace knowing that this case has helped unite the Chinese community across the county to fight for their justice," Daniel Deng, a Southern California lawyer, told Xinhua after the conviction.
The defendants admitted they targeted Ji because he was a Chinese student, and they thought Ji had money.
"This underlies a very serious stereotype that all Chinese students are rich," said Deng.
According to Los Angeles Times, prosecutors say that just past midnight on July 24, 2014, 16-year-old Guerrero and three other men attacked Ji, who was walking home from a study session, with a wrench and a blue baseball bat.
Ji escaped the four attackers initially, but Guerrero chased him down and hit him with a wrench repeatedly before fleeing the scene. The USC graduate later managed to get home, leaving a quarter-mile blood trail. Ji died in his bed that same night.
The attack immediately caused massive response across the nation. Many Chinese activist groups held a number of press conferences demanding justice for the brutal killing of Ji.
Ji's murder came just two years after 22-year-old Javier Bolden gunned down two USC students from China, Min Qu and Ying Wu. The tragedy has made the USC to tighten campus security and caused concerns among Chinese parents who had sent their children abroad.
"Ji's tragedy shows the potential safety problem many Chinese students are facing," said Deng. "It also sends a strong message to the millions of tourists coming to the county every year that America might not be as safe as they think."
The remaining three attackers, Jonathan Del Carmen, 21, Andrew Garcia, 20, and Alberto Ochoa, 19, will be tried separately next year.