Parents of murdered Chinese students Wu Ying, Qu Ming tell of their grief

Fathers of two Chinese students shot dead as they sat in a car in Los Angeles tell court of their grief as one of the accused pleads guilty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 6:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 4:37pm

The parents of two Chinese students gunned down in Los Angeles told a court of their heartache as one of the two accused men pleaded guilty in exchange for the prosecution not seeking the death penalty.

Bryan Barnes admitted the first-degree murders of Wu Ying and Qu Ming, both 23 and students at the University of Southern California, in 2012.

He will instead serve two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.

The fathers of both victims, Qu Wanzhi and Wu Xiyong, addressed the court, speaking of the great devastation and loss their families have suffered.

They said their children were killed "for no reason", according to the LA County district attorney's office.

Wu Xiyong told the court: "He [Barnes] not only has taken away our child's life together with her dream, but also shattered the dream and hope of our entire family into pieces and pushed us into the abyss of endless pain."

Qu Wanzhi said: "In our dreams, our beloved son is covered in blood, crying out to us, 'Dad, I am so cold. I suffered a horrible death for absolutely no reason. You must help me get justice.' Son, I am here today to help you get justice."

The students, both from Beijing, travelled to the US to study for master's degrees in electrical engineering. They were shot dead while sitting in Qu's parked BMW on a rainy April night.

Barnes, 21, was arrested for the killings along with Javier Bolden, 20, after detectives were able to connect Wu's stolen iPhone to the suspected gunmen.

Bolden continues to await his own trial in the case.

During a week-long preliminary hearing last year, prosecutors revealed investigators used the GPS in Wu's phone to track down its whereabouts. That information pointed to Barnes.

Investigators then got a court order to eavesdrop on Barnes' phone conversations.

In one, he allegedly talked to Bolden and appeared to acknowledge their involvement in the shooting, authorities said.

During the call, which was played in court last week, Barnes casually describes his attempt to sell the phone which prosecutors believe was Wu's.

Barnes said he had hoped to unlock the phone to give to Bolden as a birthday present.

Instead, he sold it to a mobile store for US$230, according to a transcript of the call. At one point in the conversation, Barnes describes an incident in which he and Bolden "ran up on them little Asian people" and alludes to shooting the phone's owner.

At the conclusion of last week's hearing, Judge Stephen Marcus said Bolden's lack of surprise on the call was enough to cast doubt on his attorney's argument there was insufficient evidence pointing to Bolden's participation in the shootings.

Barnes' former girlfriend also testified he later admitted to stealing the phone.

She also testified Barnes told her he "might have shot somebody" in the process.

Marcus concluded there was "more than enough evidence" tying the two men to the slayings and ordered them to stand trial for murder.

In addition to the slayings of the students, investigators said they were also able to link Barnes and Bolden to another shooting in which one victim was struck eight times.

Bolden was allegedly tied to another shooting in which two people were wounded.

Shell casings recovered from the scene of Wu's and Qu's slayings tied the shootings together, authorities said.

Additional reporting by Reuters