Two men have been charged with the recent murders of two Chinese students in Los Angeles, and could face the death penalty. The case stirred up resentment of China's growing income inequality when early reports falsely referred to the students' "brand new" "$60,000" BMW. From Reuters:
Two men accused of fatally shooting a pair of Chinese graduate students at the University of Southern California were charged on Tuesday with capital murder, making them eligible to face the death penalty if convicted, prosecutors said ….
The men arrested in the case, 20-year-old Bryan Barnes and 19-year-old Javier Bolden, have been charged with capital murder during a suspected robbery. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty or life in prison, both options in a capital case, the district attorney's office said.
The two will face the charges when they appear in a Los Angeles court later on Tuesday afternoon.
The victims' parents sued USC last week, accusing the university of making misleading claims about students' safety. From The Los Angeles Times:
Their attorney, Alan Burton Newman, alleges in the lawsuit that USC inaccurately claimed on its website that it "is ranked among the safest of U.S. universities and colleges, with one of the most comprehensive, proactive campus and community safety programs in the nation." The suit notes that USC says it provides 24-hour security on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods.
The suit says USC "provided no patrolling" in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. After the killings, USC persisted with a "clearly misleading" portrayal of safety, reiterating in a letter to the campus community that crime "is low compared to other areas of Los Angeles," according to the lawsuit.
In response, USC attorney Debra Wong Yang said the university is "deeply saddened by this tragic event, which was a random violent act not representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus. While we have deep sympathy for the victims' families, this lawsuit is baseless and we will move to have it dismissed."
Stan Abrams, commenting on the case at China Hearsay, agreed, concluding that whatever precautions are taken, "these things just happen."