Crime Discovery of prosecutors' racist emails prompts release of woman jailed for 17 years in parents' murder
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The discovery of racist emails sent by attorneys who successfully prosecuted a Massachusetts woman accused in her parents murder has prompted her release from jail nearly 17 years later.
Frances Choy was convicted of killing her parents, Anne Trinh-Choy, 53, and Ching “Jimmy” Choy, 64 after a third trial in May 2011. Her first two court appearances both ended with hung juries.
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“This may be the first case in the U.S. where a murder conviction has been thrown out because of racism on the part of prosecutors,” John Barter, attorney for Frances Choy, told
Choy was just 17 years old when both of her parents died in a brutal house fire in April 2003.
Prosecutors at the time claimed Choy was motivated by her parents' life insurance and wanting to be with her boyfriend. She was sentenced to life without the possibility for parole for the killings.
In a new motion obtained by, however, Plymouth Superior Court Judge Linda Giles said “newly discovered evidence of racial bias established that justice may not have been done" in Choy’s case.
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After uncovering racist emails as well as additional scientific evidence, Giles determined Choy’s convictions should be vacated.
“The trial prosecutors exchanged numerous images of Asian people, some accompanied by pejorative comments and some unexplained,” Giles wrote.
“They exchanged jokes about Asian stereotypes and mocking caricatures of Asians using imperfect English.”
The judge additionally questioned the role of Choy’s then 16-year-old nephew, Kenneth Choy — who was also in the home when the fire broke out — as the prosecutor’s key witness. He was acquitted on murder charges in 2008 and then testified under immunity during his second trial.
He then fled to Hong Kong ahead of her third appearance in court.
During a status hearing Tuesday afternoon, the Plymouth County District Attorney filed a nolle prosequi — meaning it will not seek another trial in the case.
Choy, who was released to home confinement in April, was freed after spending 17 years behind bars as a result.
Black America’s Fight for Yusuf Hawkins Is Far From Over .
I dare you to examine the 1989 murder of Yusuf Hawkins and tell me America has changed. Yusuf Hawkins was a 16-year-old Black teenager who, along with three friends, went to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, one summer night to look at a used car his buddy Troy had found for sale in the newspaper. Yusuf didn’t know anyone in Bensonhurst, but he and his friends found themselves surrounded by a mob of 30 young white men swinging baseball bats, wielding handguns, and accusing them of not belonging in their all-white neighborhood. The mostly Italian men forced themselves between Yusuf and his friends, pinned Yusuf up against a dark doorway, and shot him to the ground.