The preliminary examination for two suspects in the homicide of Hollister’s Yoon Ji has been delayed again, this time until January.
The preliminary examination is where a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence for a jury trial. It has been delayed in the case against Jung Choi and Sang Ji several times now, with the public defender previously attributing it to a lack of discovery from the sheriff’s office.
The courts had scheduled a preliminary hearing over three days, Oct. 22, 24 and 26. But that had been moved to Dec. 3 and Dec. 5, according to court records. Most recently, it has been moved to Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, according to court records.
The preliminary exam will be more than a year after arrests in the case.
The victim’s husband Ji and his alleged mistress Choi have been charged with the homicide and remain in custody at the county jail.
For the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, which is overseeing the investigation, the mysterious case started Dec. 2 of 2017 when one of the two daughters – Serena Ji – contacted authorities from Los Angeles where she lives to report her mother as missing after not hearing from her since Nov. 27. On the day before, the daughter had received “an odd message from her father, Sang Ji, stating her mother went to South Korea unexpectedly,” according to a prior sheriff’s office statement.
“She contacted family in South Korea who said the mother was not there, and had not contacted them to go there. The female and her sister were concerned so she drove to Hollister from Los Angeles to confront the father,” according to the sheriff’s office after the arrest in December. The two suspects are awaiting their next court appearance March 23 and remain at the San Benito County Jail on more than $2 million in bail each.
Afterward, Serena Ji filed the missing person’s report on her mother. The sheriff’s office issued a search warrant and served it on Dec. 6. JI and Choi were arrested and booked in the San Benito County Jail on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
On Dec. 20 of last year, authorities discovered Yoon Ji’s body buried in a ravine, with he remains stuffed in a suitcase, in the 2300 block of Salinas Grade Road near San Juan Bautista.
Additionally, in a separate civil case, a San Benito County judge has ordered two suspects to pay a total of $40 million to the two daughters of the victim.
Catharina Ji and Serena Ji filed the lawsuit in San Benito County Superior Court against their father Sang Ji, 49, of Hollister and Jung Choi, 45, of South Korea.
Judge Harry Tobias ruled against the defaulting defendants in the civil case and ordered them to jointly pay the $40 million sum with $20 million going to each of the two daughters, though the plaintiffs’ attorney James Hann from the Hann Law Firm said he doubts they’ll ever see those amounts. Hann in speaking to San Benito Live noted how damage amounts in such judgments are “independent of ability to pay.”