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April 1, 2020

Judge might try Yoon Ji murder suspects separately

Victim’s husband claims he is not competent for trial

Yoon Ji’s husband and the woman accused of helping him murder his wife in San Benito County could be tried separately for the crime in the coming weeks, according to authorities.

The murder victim’s husband, Sang Ji, recently claimed he is not mentally competent to stand trial, and a psychological evaluation to determine his competency is underway.

Sang Ji, 49, and Jung Choi, 45, remain in custody at San Benito County Jail on suspicion of murder in relation to the December 2017 death of Yoon Ji. Both suspects appeared in court March 29, where defense attorneys filed a motion to try the suspects separately, according to San Benito County District Attorney Candice Hooper.

Jung Choi pleaded not guilty at the March 29 hearing. Her next court date is scheduled for May 1. Sang Ji’s next court date is April 18. A superior court judge will determine if the two suspects are to be tried separately at an upcoming hearing.

A judge will also rule on Sang Ji’s competency to stand trial at an upcoming hearing. At the March 29 hearing, the judge ordered a competency evaluation for Sang Ji at the request of his attorney.

Sang Ji and Yoon Ji owned Hollister Laundromat before Yoon Ji’s death in late 2017. Sheriff’s deputies found Yoon Ji’s remains in December 2017 off Salinas Grade Road between San Benito and Monterey counties, according to authorities. The two suspects were arrested immediately after the remains were found.

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

The adult children of Yoon Ji and Sang Ji filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the murder suspects in 2018, winning a default judgment of $20 million in damages. The civil complaint alleges that the parents’ marriage had been on the rocks in the weeks preceding their mother’s death. Sang Ji and Jung Choi conspired to remove more than $175,000 worth of “community property assets” from a safe in the family home in Hollister, and transfer the proceeds to an associate in South Korea.

The lawsuit claims the property had belonged jointly to Sang Ji and Yoon Ji, and Sang Ji did not want to divorce his wife of 23 years for fear of losing a portion of these assets. The lawsuit also alleges that Jung Choi and Sang Ji were having an extramarital affair at the time of Yoon Ji’s death.

Sheriff’s deputies have not confirmed details of the death and motive that are alleged in the civil lawsuit.

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