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October 2, 2023

Courts: Trial delayed for teen’s alleged killer

Barajas set to return to court June 27

The trial for a Hollister man accused of shooting and killing 19-year-old Ariana Zendejas has been delayed again, as the suspect was ordered back to court June 27 for a hearing to set his trial date.

Jose Antonio Barajas is charged with murder and other felonies in relation to the shooting death of Zendejas on Aug. 1, 2014. He was arrested for his alleged involvement in that crime in July 2018, and has remained in custody at the local jail since then. He appeared briefly June 13 so the court could schedule the upcoming pretrial conference.

Jose Antonio Barajas

Barajas was a passenger in a vehicle chasing another car that had four occupants, including the male driver with whom Barajas had previously been feuding. Zendejas was a passenger in the back seat of the vehicle that Barajas was chasing.

Barajas opened fire with a handgun on the victims’ vehicle near B and West streets, hitting Zendejas with at least one of the bullets, according to police. The driver of the victims’ vehicle drove Zendejas to Hazel Hawkins Hospital, where police responded shortly after the shooting. Zendejas was pronounced dead later that evening.

Barajas fled the area with the two occupants of the vehicle he was traveling in, and later left the country, according to police. He was arrested July 12, 2018, in Guadalajara, Mexico in relation to the Hollister shooting. He was extradited from Mexico and flown to San Jose, where he was transferred to the San Benito County Jail.

Barajas is also charged with three counts of attempted murder, kidnapping and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle. The charges against Barajas also include “special allegations” for his use of a firearm in the crime, according to court documents. If convicted, Barajas faces life in prison.

One trial, two suspects

The husband of Hollister murder victim Yoon Ji and the woman accused of aiding him in the crime will be tried together, according to San Benito County Superior Court records.

Sang Ji

Judge Steven Sanders last month set a pretrial conference date of June 28 for murder suspects Sang Ji, 49, and Jung Choi, 45. The judge also determined that a mental health evaluation found that Sang Ji is competent to stand trial on the charge of murdering his wife in December 2017. At a previous hearing, his attorney suggested he may not be competent, and the judge ordered an evaluation at that time.

The two suspects remain in custody at San Benito County Jail on suspicion of murdering Yoon Ji. Both suspects have pleaded not guilty.

Sang Ji and Yoon Ji owned Hollister Laundromat before Yoon Ji’s death. Sheriff’s deputies found Yoon Ji’s remains off Salinas Grade Road between San Benito and Monterey counties, according to authorities. The two suspects were arrested immediately after the remains were found.

Jung Choi

Yoon Ji’s daughter and sister, who live in Los Angeles, reported the woman missing on Dec. 2, 2017. The daughter told sheriff’s authorities that she had not heard from her mother for about two weeks, according to police.

Larios trial date

Christopher Larios, who is accused of killing Raul De La Rosa in 2014, is scheduled to get a trial date at a June 20 hearing at San Benito County Courthouse.

Larios, 32, of Hollister, is charged with a felony count of murder, in addition to an enhancement for the use of a firearm. The charges relate to the Dec. 23, 2014 death of De La Rosa at a residence on the 2000 block of Scenic Circle in southeast Hollister.

Police arrested Larios when he entered the Hollister police station April 21, 2019, and told officers he wanted to make a statement about the 2014 murder. Based on that interview, officers arrested Larios on suspicion of killing De La Rosa.

Christopher Larios

He remains in the county jail in lieu of $1.05 million bail, according to authorities.

Police had previously ruled De La Rosa’s death a homicide, but had not arrested or identified a suspect or suspects until Larios made his statement. Officers have not released any details about Larios’ motive or events leading up to the 2014 murder.

On Dec. 23, 2014, Hollister police and fire personnel had responded to a medical aid call for a non-responsive man in the 2000 block of Scenic Circle. Officers found the man, later identified as De La Rosa, outside a residence in the area.

Paramedics administered medical aid, but De La Rosa was declared deceased after all life-saving efforts were exhausted, police said.

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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