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San Benito
February 28, 2024

Without discovery, prelim delayed again for homicide suspects

The preliminary examination for two suspects in the homicide of Hollister’s Yoon Ji has been delayed until October because law enforcement investigators still haven’t submitted discovery evidence.

“We haven’t gotten discovery from the sheriff’s department yet,” said defense attorney Gregory LaForge. “They’ve got the FBI involved.”

LaForge said the defense hasn’t seen a photo or anything from the FBI.

“There’s not much we can move forward with until we get all that,” he said.

The preliminary examination, where a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence for a trial, had been set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 13 with a confirmation scheduled for June 22. The preliminary hearing, though, has been moved to Oct. 22 and Oct. 24, according to records.

Scheduling for the preliminary examination had been held up previously because the defense argued it had not received discovery materials.

The preliminary exam, if it happens in October, will be more than 10 months after arrests in the case.

The victim’s husband Sang Ji and his alleged mistress Jung Choi have been charged with the homicide.

For the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, which is overseeing the investigation, the mysterious case started Dec. 2 of last year 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. Sang JI and Jung Choi were arrested and booked in the San Benito County Jail on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

On Dec. 20, 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.”

Courtesy of court filings, this is a photo of Yoon Ji with daughters Catharina and Serena.

-Kollin Kosmicki