Brockton woman gets life in ’03 murder of parents

By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / May 17, 2011

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After two deadlocked juries, a woman was found guilty yesterday of killing her parents by setting fire to their Brockton home in 2003, a stunning crime that drew national attention.

Frances Y. Choy, 25, was convicted by a jury of two counts of first-degree murder and arson in the deaths of Jimmy and Anne Choy, who had immigrated to the United States from China. After a two-week trial in Brockton Superior Court, she was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, the Plymouth district attorney’s office said.

In the early morning hours of April 17, 2003, Choy set fire to her home while her parents slept, prosecutors said. She and her 16-year-old nephew were rescued unharmed from their bedroom window.

Choy’s parents were also rescued but died later that day of smoke inhalation and burns.

Plastic bottles filled with gasoline were found at the scene.

Choy, then a 17-year-old senior at Brockton High School, was angry because her parents forbade her from moving in with her boyfriend and from living at college. Choy also wanted to collect $10,000 in insurance money, prosecutors said.

Choy’s nephew, Kenneth S. Choy, was also charged with murder, but was acquitted in 2008. Prosecutors said he had written detailed plans about setting the blaze, but his lawyer countered that he did not light the fire and was not there when it was set.

At the time, Choy told police Frances Choy offered him money to help her set the blaze, but that he backed out of the plot.

Frances Choy had been held in state prison without bail for nearly eight years before a second mistrial was declared in February, when she was released and placed under home confinement with relatives in Weymouth. In the previous trials, jury members were unable to reach a verdict.

Choy’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. Under state law, first-degree murder convictions are automatically appealed.

Peter Schworm can be reached at