US men plead not guilty to Chinese student killings

Two men charged with murdering two Chinese students in Los Angeles in April pleaded not guilty Wednesday, and were ordered to remain in custody without bail.

Bryan Barnes, 20, and Javier Bolden, 19, could face the death penalty after being indicted on capital murder charges over the killings of engineering students Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23.

The pair were arrested in May, and on Wednesday appeared in court to enter pleas. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba ordered them to remain jailed without bail.

The two Chinese students from the University of Southern California (USC) were shot in the early hours of April 11, as they sat in a car in an area southwest of downtown LA.

Both suspects were also charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting a 20-year-old man during a December 3 party in South Los Angeles. Barnes was also charged with an attempted murder on February 12.

The parents of the victims filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the USC in May.

They noted that the USC "actively solicits international students, particularly from China, for its graduate studies program for which it receives a substantial sum of money from tuition to help fund the university."

The USC website states the university "is ranked among the safest of US universities and colleges, with one of the most comprehensive, proactive campus and community safety programs in the nation," they added.

Barnes and Bolden are due back in court on September 20, when a date will be set for a hearing to decide whether there is enough evidence for them to stand trial over the killings.

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