A doctor has been appointed to determine the mental competency of murder suspect Sang Ji in the 2017 death of his late, estranged wife Yoon Ji.
On Wednesday, Judge Steven Sanders appointed Dr. Lyn Mangiameli to conduct a psychiatric evaluation of Sang Ji to determine his competency for a possible trial. That came after his attorney Greg LaForge at a late March arraignment hearing motioned for the evaluation while claiming his client is not mentally fit for trial.
The two suspects in the 2017 murder of Hollister’s Yoon Ji are headed toward separate jury trials after a ruling in the late March hearing as well. The other suspect is Ji’s alleged mistress at the time of the murder, Jung Choi, who’s represented by attorney Harry Damkar.
The next hearing for Ji is scheduled for Ji a review of the doctor’s report at 9 a.m. April 18. Choi is scheduled back in court for a trial setting at 11 a.m. May 1.
It’s unclear when the jury trials might actually occur. Visiting Judge Lee Felice in early March heard two days of testimony in a preliminary examination for the suspects and ruled there was enough evidence for the suspects to face those trials, according to court records.
The victim’s husband Ji and his alleged mistress Choi have been charged with the homicide and remain in custody at the county jail on more than $2 million in bail each.
For the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, which is overseeing the investigation, the 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.
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 of that year. 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 2017, authorities discovered Yoon Ji’s body buried in a ravine in the 2300 block of Salinas Grade Road near San Juan Bautista with the remains stuffed in a suitcase.
In a separate civil case, meanwhile, 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.
Now-retired 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 has said he doubts they’ll ever see those amounts.