– On Wednesday, Superior Court judge pushed the Nov. 4 trial of
four local defendants charged with conspiring a murder-for-hire
plot to kill a Gilroy restaurant owner back to Nov. 18, allowing
more evidence to be collected by attorneys.
SAN JOSE – On Wednesday, Superior Court judge pushed the Nov. 4 trial of four local defendants charged with conspiring a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Gilroy restaurant owner back to Nov. 18, allowing more evidence to be collected by attorneys.
Gustavo Covian, 39, Maria Covian, 28, Ignacio Covian, 31 and Kyung Kim, 46, are all charged with involvement in the November 1998 disappearance and suspected murder of 49-year-old Young Kim, Kyung Kim’s husband of 24 years and owner of the former Gavilan Restaurant at 6120 Monterey Road. If convicted of the first-degree murder charges, the defendants could face life in prison without parole.
On Wednesday afternoon, all four defendants were transported to the county Superior Court room in San Jose from the underground walkway which leads from the adjoining Santa Clara County Jail. Wearing cherry red prison garbs, the defendants showed little emotion, only speaking to their attorneys and a Spanish interpreter requested by Ignacio Covian.
At the hearing Thomas Worthington, the attorney representing alleged trigger-man Gustavo Covian, also reminded Superior Court Judge Hugh F. Mullin of his request for a separate trial for his client. Originally scheduled for Friday, that argument will now be heard on Nov. 8.
“I will make sure he is at least tried with his brother (Ignacio Covian),” said Deputy District Attorney Peter Waite, who is prosecuting the case. “I can see if the women and men are tried together I suppose, but there is no way Gustavo should be allowed his own trial.”
When the trial does begin, a grand jury selected from throughout the county will try to sort out exactly what happened to Young Kim, who according to court documents was last seen entering his former Gilroy home in the 9400 block of Rancho Hills Drive in November 1998. Following his disappearance, Kyung Kim waited 16 days to report her husband missing to Gilroy police.
The Kim’s marriage that was arranged by Young Kim’s family in the couple’s native Korea had been steadily dissolving at the time of Young Kim’s disappearance. Both Young and Kyung had been romantically involved with other people for a period of time, and police found divorce papers in Young Kim’s green Mitsubishi 3000 glove compartment after his disappearance, according to a 400-page court document released after the arraignment hearing last December.
A week before her husband’s disappearance, Kyung Kim allegedly approached Maria Covian, a waitress at the Kim’s restaurant, about hiring someone to kill her husband. Maria said she knew people who could do the job, but that it would cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
Gilroy police now believe those people were Maria’s husband whom she lived with in Hollister at the time, Gustavo Covian, and his brother, Ignacio Covian.
Several sources interviewed by police have said Gustavo and Ignacio Covian kidnapped and murdered Kim on the night he was last seen, according to court documents, but authorities have yet recover a body.