Arraignment postponed for suspects in USC students' slaying
The arraignment for two men charged in the slayings of two USC graduate students was postponed Monday until July 18, a judge said Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Attorneys for Javier Bolden, 19, and Bryan Barnes, 20, asked the judge for more time to review the case. They were were arrested in May and charged with first-degree murder in the killing of electrical engineering students from China: Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23.
More than three dozen students from China, as well as the head of education from China's consulate in L.A., packed the courtroom and left disappointed and confused.
"I'm wondering how many times they can postpone this," said Joy Xing, a student studying petroleum engineering at USC.
She had met Qu and Wu on their first day at USC and had been friends ever since. When she saw Bolden and Barnes enter the courtroom in blue jumpsuits, she held back tears.
"I tried to keep calm," she said, "but it was hard."
When the judge denied requests for media in the courtroom, a cheer erupted from a group of friends and family of the defendants. Bolden's birth mother, Lashanna S. Green-Chaskley, sat quietly to the side and did not comment.
Police investigators said they believe Bolden and Barnes came across the pair talking in a parked BMW on April 11 and decided to rob them. At some point, police allege, Barnes opened fire, killing them.
The shooting caused reverberations throughout USC, where students and faculty held a memorial for the victims. Qu's and Wu's parents filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming officials gave out inaccurate information about safety around campus.
Bolden and Barnes also face one count each of attempted murder in a separate incident last year, according to the L.A. County District Attorney's office, and Bolden is charged with an additional count of attempted murder and one count of assault stemming from a February incident.
Outside the courthouse, the group of Chinese students unrolled a large banner with more than 800 signatures they had collected in the last month from universities across the county.
The banner, which says "Protect our safety," is part of an awareness campaign, said Howard Wang, president of the Southwest Chinese Students and Scholars Assn. They have collected more than 7,000 signatures online for a "letter of concern" they hope to present to the district attorney's office later this month.
"We just want to make sure we show our support in every way possible," Wang said. "Especially since their parents cannot be here."
-- Rosanna Xia
Photo: Outside Superior Court, a student signs a banner that says "Protect our safety." Credit: Rosanna Xia / Los Angeles Times