Police / Fire

Ji and Choi trial-setting hearing is Oct. 4

Judge Steven Sanders denies motions from both defendants.
Assistant DA Joel Buckingham argued that the two defendants should be tried together.
Assistant DA Joel Buckingham argued that the two defendants should be tried together.
Ji speaks with investigator Richard Solano.
Ji speaks with investigator Richard Solano.
San Benito County Sheriff Capt. Eric Taylor said he did not coerice Ji.
San Benito County Sheriff Capt. Eric Taylor said he did not coerice Ji.
Attorney James C. Hann represented Ji's daughters in a 2018 civil trial. Cantu tried to prove he acted as an agent of law enforcement when relaying information from Ji to the Sheriff's Office.
Attorney James C. Hann represented Ji's daughters in a 2018 civil trial. Cantu tried to prove he acted as an agent of law enforcement when relaying information from Ji to the Sheriff's Office.
Sgt. Bryan Penny said he Mirandized Ji.
Sgt. Bryan Penny said he Mirandized Ji.
The large binder holds the case against Ji and Choi.
The large binder holds the case against Ji and Choi.
Judge Steven Sanders denied both motions.
Judge Steven Sanders denied both motions.

Hollister resident Sang Ji, 50, and South Korean national Jung Choi, 46, appeared in San Benito County Superior Court on Sept. 11. The pair, accused of murdering Ji’s wife Yoon Ji in Dec. 2017, will return to court on Oct. 4 for a trial-setting hearing.

Judge Steven Sanders denied motions from defense attorneys Arthur Cantu (Ji) and

Harry Damkar (Choi). Cantu requested that Ji’s comments and interactions with San Benito County Sheriff’s deputies be dismissed, while Damkar sought to sever Choi’s trial from Ji’s.

Damkar was unsuccessful in arguing that statements made concerning Ji would be detrimental to Choi’s case. After Sanders denied the motion, Damkar said he would request two juries.

Cantu tried to convince Sanders that sheriff’s deputies, including lead investigator Capt. Eric Taylor, did not properly read Ji his Miranda rights because there was not a Korean translator present when he was arrested. As Cantu was arguing the need for a Korean translator, Ji was whispering to private investigator Richard Solano, who later told Benitolink he does not speak Korean. Cantu also argued that Taylor coerced Ji when he told Ji that he was risking not seeing his daughters ever again if he did not talk.

Taylor said he was only talking to Ji as “one human being to another.”

James C. Hann, a San Jose attorney who represented Ji’s two daughters in a 2018 civil trialtestified that he came to see Ji prior to that trial to learn where Ji kept a flash drive containing financial information. He said that during the conversation Ji asked him to tell Taylor he wanted to speak with him. Under further questioning from Assistant DA Joel Buckingham,  Hann tried to invoke privilege, but finally admitted that he had also represented Yoon Ji. He claimed privilege again when Buckingham asked in what capacity.

Cantu attempted to use Hann’s relay of information to demonstrate that Haan was acting as an agent of the Sheriff’s Office.

“Clearly, Captain Taylor’s sole interest was to gather evidence,” Cantu said.  

Taylor said Hann’s email only indicated that Ji wanted to tell him something.

Sanders did not agree with Cantu’s arguments and said it was clear that Ji did understand the Miranda statement, because when he was asked if he wanted to give up his rights, he told Sgt. Bryan Penney, “Not at this time,” in English.

“There’s no facts that Mr. Ji does not understand English,” Sanders said before denying the motion.

 

Other related BenitoLink articles:

Ji, Choi trial date set for July 22

Ji and Choi hearings delayed

Ji and Choi will be tried separately

Ji and Choi to be tried for murder

Ji and Choi murder case gets January hearing

Preliminary hearing set for Oct. 22 to determine if Choi and Ji murder trial moves forward

Sheriff’s investigator: Sang Ji says Jung Choi killed his wife

 

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: johnchadwell@benitolink.com.