The two suspects in the 2017 murder of Hollister’s Yoon Ji are headed toward a jury trial after a judge held them to answer in a preliminary examination this week.
Visiting Judge Lee Felice heard two days of testimony in a preliminary exam for Sang Ji and Jung Choi and ruled there was enough evidence for a jury trial, according to court records.
The two suspects are set to appear in court again for an arraignment at 11 a.m. March 27 in courtroom 3 of the San Benito County Courthouse, according to the courts.
The preliminary examination, where a judge hears testimony and decides whether to move ahead toward a trial, came after several delays in the court process that started in late 2017.
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.