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March 25, 2023

Trial scheduling starts again in murder case after attorney drops out

Two suspects in the murder of Hollister’s Yoon Ji had their jury trial put off after a public defender dropped out of the case.

Jung Choi and Sang Ji were set to appear for their jury trial to start July 22, this past Monday, at the San Benito County Courthouse, according to records. Before that, they had appeared for a trial confirmation July 12 before Judge Steven Sanders and had the proceeding delayed.

According to records, public defender Greg LaForge was relieved of his duties as attorney for Ji and replaced by fellow public defender Art Cantu. Harry Damkar is still the attorney for Choi.

Both suspects are now facing a trial setting July 31 at 1:30 p.m., according to records.

The victim’s husband Ji and his alleged mistress Choi have been charged with the 2017 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, 2017. 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.

Jung Choi is a suspect in the murder case.