LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Two men pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the murders of two USC graduate students.
Bryan Barnes, 20, and Javier Bolden, 19, were charged with capital murder and other counts after allegedly killing two 23-year-old engineering students from China, Ming Qu and Ying Wu, on April 11.
While in the courtroom holding cell, the suspects were laughing and talking with each other, so Judge Shelly Torri Alba told them to stop.
KNX 1070’s John Brooks spoke to an USC student who identified himself as Victor who says they should not be laughing.
The students were fatally shot in a botched armed robbery while sitting in Qu’s BMW, which was double-parked in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Authorities believe Barnes killed the victims and Bolden drove the getaway car.
Their arraignments have already been postponed twice.
Investigators said the shell casings recovered at the crime scene played a critical role in leading them to Barnes and Bolden. The casings matched those recovered from a shooting at a party in December 2011, for which both suspects were charged with attempted murder.
Barnes was also charged with one count of attempted murder and firing a semi-automatic assault weapon, severely injuring a man and a woman, at a February 2011 party in South L.A. The casings at that shooting also matched those obtained from the shooting near USC.
Both suspects’ criminal records also include petty thefts, police reported. Sources say the two suspects have gang ties, but are not official gang members.
The families of the victims are suing the university, alleging the school misrepresented security at the campus to make itself attractive to foreign students.
Due to the special circumstances of the charges, prosecutors will consider whether to seek the death penalty.
Barnes and Bolden are scheduled to return to court Sept. 20, when a date will be set for a preliminary hearing. The defense is trying to reduce pre-trial publicity by attempting to get a gag order to silence the LAPD and the District Attorney’s office.
The suspects are being held without bail.