Frances Choy’s Murder Conviction Overturned When New Evidence Shows Racist Email Exchange Between Prosecutors

The murder conviction of Frances Choy has been overturned.
Frances Choy was convicted at age 17. Boston College Innocence Program/Twitter

New evidence released from a 2004 murder case has overturned the conviction of Massachusetts woman Frances Choy, nearly 17 years after she was convicted of setting her home on fire, which ultimately killed  her parents, according to a report. Choy, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced to life in prison following the deaths of her parents, Anne Trinh-Choy, 53, and Ching "Jimmy" Choy, 64, at the family's home in Brockton in April 2003. 

Choy was tried three times for the death of her parents –– the first two times, in 2008 and then 2011, led to hung juries before she was finally convicted in May 2011. Prosecutors claimed Choy was swayed by her parent's life insurance and the fact that she wanted to be with her boyfriend, People Magazine reported.

Choy's nephew, then 16-year-old Kenneth Choy, was also home at the time of the fire and served as the prosecutor's key witness. He was cleared of murder charges in 2008, testified under immunity in Choy's second trial, and then fled to Hong Kong before her third trial, People reported.

The discovery of new scientific evidence in addition to racist emails exchanged between prosecutors demonstrated they were "biased against Asians" and helped a judge drop Choy's convictions, according to the report which referenced Plymouth Superior Court Judge Linda Giles' motion.

"The trial prosecutors exchanged numerous images of Asian people, some accompanied by pejorative comments and some unexplained," Giles writes. "They exchanged jokes about Asian stereotypes and mocking caricatures of Asians using imperfect English."

Most of the emails were released last year after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered the Plymouth County District Attorney to hand them in, WBUR reported.

Choy's conviction was vacated Sept. 17, the outlet reported. The court announced it will not be seeking a fourth trial.

"It has been a tough and long journey, but their support helped me stay strong and never give up hope," Choy said in a statement. "Nothing can erase the pain of losing my parents and how they suffered. I miss them every day. Even in prison, I tried to live my life in a way that honored them. I'm relieved that the truth has been revealed and to have my life back beyond prison walls."

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