Pastor Ordered to Stand Trial for Murder in Death of Deacon
A Torrance church leader who allegedly hacked another congregation official to death with a hatchet was ordered this week to stand trial for first-degree murder.
The Rev. Samuel Chi, 40, pastor of Evangelical Formosan Church, is accused of killing a deacon whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife. After a preliminary hearing last week, Commissioner Nori Walla ruled there was enough evidence for Chi to stand trial and set bail at $250,000.
Torrance police say Chi admitted carrying a hatchet to the Pacific Coast Highway office of Dr. Shinn-Der Yu and striking Yu with it repeatedly on the back of the head after a violent argument. Chi, wearing a blood-soaked shirt, later went to a liquor store and used a pay phone to summon police.
In an interview with police after the attack, Chi said he discovered that his wife and Yu were having an affair. Chi claims that Yu admitted to the affair when confronted in his office July 3.
After the two argued, Chi took a newly purchased hatchet from his briefcase and began beating Yu with it. Police say the murder weapon was found in Chi’s car.
Yu and Chi’s wife, Sally, were members of the church choir, according to police. Chi’s wife has attended all of her husband’s court appearances so far.
The killing stunned members of Chi’s congregation, a 250-member church that holds services in Chinese and English. Chi, the father of two children, has headed the church since he moved to Torrance from New York two years ago.
Chi is scheduled to appear in Torrance Superior Court on Aug. 29 for arraignment.