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Teenager Found Guilty in 2014 Beating Death of USC Graduate Student

Updated

Al Seib /Los Angeles Times via AP

One of four teenagers accused of murdering a University of Southern California graduate student from China was found guilty Thursday of his 2014 murder, Los Angeles County court officials confirm to PEOPLE.

Alejandra Guerrero, 18, was one of four people accused of bludgeoning USC graduate Xinran Ji to death with a baseball bat and wrench.

Prosecutors say Guerrero, who was 16 at the time, attacked Ji shortly before 1 a.m. on July 24, 2014, as he walked home from a study group, according to an LA County District Attorney’s Office press release.

Guerrero and the three other defendants — Andrew Garcia, Jonathan Del Carmen and Alberto Ochoa — told detectives they targeted the 24-year-old engineering student because he was Chinese and they assumed he had money, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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On the night of the murder, Guerrero was driving in a car with friends near the USC campus looking for someone to rob and spotted Ji walking alone, prosecutors said, according to the Times.

Before the attack, Guerrero had written in Facebook messages that she wanted to rob white and Chinese people, prosecutors told the jury, according to the paper.

When Ji escaped mid-attack, Guerrero chased him down and beat him with a wrench, the paper reports. Somehow, the Chinese student survived the attack long enough to stumble home, where he died. He was discovered by his roommates the next morning, the press release states.

Security footage captured Ji running before being stopped and beaten, which the jury said helped in their decision, the Times reports.

During the trial, McKinney urged jurors to disregard the defendant’s age, according to NBC Los Angeles.

“This is not your average 16-year-old. Your average 16-year-old does not engage in savage behavior like this for fun, for kicks,” McKinney said, according to NBC.

After Ji’s attack, the group continued their search for victims and found a couple at Dockweiler Beach, the jury heard, who they attacked. Guerrero was also found guilty of robbery and attempted robbery for the second attack, the press release states.

Trial dates for the other defendants have not been set but will likely take place next year, court officials tell PEOPLE. Guerrero’s attorney, Errol Cook, could not be reached for comment. Guerrero will next appear in court for sentencing on Nov. 28. She faces life in prison without parole.