The two suspects in the murder of Hollister’s Yoon Ji are on separate tracks in the courtroom, with one of them pushing to have charges dropped at a June hearing.
But first, Sang Ji is set to appear again in court at 1:30 p.m. May 24 for a review hearing related to a doctor’s evaluation of whether the suspect is mentally capable of facing trial. His counterpart, Jung Choi, is pursuing a dismissal of charges at a 1:30 p.m. hearing June 28, according to court records.
The case has dragged on for well over a year, and doesn’t appear to be headed toward expected, separate jury trials anytime soon.
Judge Steven Sanders appointed Dr. Lyn Mangiameli to conduct a psychiatric evaluation of 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 it.
In early March, a visiting judge heard two days of testimony in a preliminary examination for the suspects and ruled there was enough evidence for them 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.
Main photo caption: Jung Choi mugshot