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Deacon Gets 3 Years' Probation in Fatal Exorcism

May 01, 1997

MALIBU — The deacon at a Korean Christian church in Glendale who cooperated with prosecutors was sentenced Wednesday to three years' probation and ordered to speak to church groups about his role in a deadly exorcism.

Jin Hyun Choi, 44, received the sentence after fulfilling his promise to testify for the prosecution at the murder trial of two missionaries who had been charged with murder in the July 4 death of the wife of one of the men. Choi earlier had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

After a trial earlier this month, Superior Court Judge James Albracht convicted the others--exorcist Sung Soo Choi, 47, and Jae-Whoa Chung, 50--of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 53-year-old Kyung-Ja Chung. Choi, the exorcist, received a maximum four-year sentence while Chung was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Jin Hyun Choi, a deacon at Glendale Calvary Presbyterian Church, summoned rescue workers and attempted to revive the woman when her breathing grew labored, Deputy Dist. Atty. Hank Goldberg said. He had been less involved in the rite--known as Ansukido, it involves prayer and laying on hands--than the other two men, the prosecutor added.

As a term of his probation, Choi must perform community service. Albracht ordered him to lecture church groups in the Korean community, warning them of the dangers of using physical force during prayer rituals.

The Chungs, who were missionaries visiting from Bangladesh, had asked Sung Soo Choi, who was visiting from China, to rid the woman of a demon that was making her arrogant and disobedient to her husband.

After two sessions that lasted about seven hours, Chung died of blunt force injuries that included 16 broken ribs, shredded and bruised muscles, and crushed internal organs. According to testimony, by the end the men had been walking on her body and stomping in their zeal to drive out a devil named Legion.

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