Nephew will point finger to aunt in Brockton murder trial

Elaine Allegrini

Four years ago, they faced a judge together, two teenagers charged with setting the fire that killed her parents, his grandparents.

Now, Kenneth Choy, 20, will take the stand to testify against his aunt, Frances Choy, 21, when her murder trial begins in superior court in October.

"He's going to be a witness against Frances," Assistant District Attorney Bridget Norton Middleton said Tuesday.

The case has been lingering since April 17, 2003, when fire swept the family home at 102 Belair St. at 5 a.m. Anne Trinh-Choy, 53, and Ching "Jimmy" Choy, 64, died of injuries suffered in the blaze.

Prosecutors alleged the then-teenagers filled two milk jugs and two soda bottles with gasoline, placed the bottles along the stairs and poured some of the fuel on the walls, couch and floor of the elder Choys' bedroom before igniting the fire.

The defendants have spent the years since they were charged in jail.

"She's doing fine," said Frances' attorney Joseph Krowski. "She's mentally strong and she knows how the system works. We're trying to get her through, get her to trial."

Krowski declined to discuss the case or the defense that he will use when the facts of the case unfold before a judge and jury, but did say, "She didn't do it."

Assistant District Attorney John Bradley will present the prosecution's case, calling Kenneth Choy as a witness. Middleton declined to say if Kenneth Choy will receive any consideration for his testimony when he goes to trial. His attorney, George Murphy, was not available for comment Tuesday.

The property where the deadly blaze occurred remains in the names of Anne and Jimmy Choy, according to city records. A cousin, Vinh Huynh of Brockton, is listed on those records. He declined to comment on the family or the case.

The elder Choys were asleep in their bedroom when Frances Choy, then 17, called 911 on her cell phone about 5 a.m. on the day of the blaze, summoning firefighters.

Firefighters pulled her and Kenneth from the burning house, authorities said at the time of the blaze. Frances directed firefighters to her parents' bedroom, but it was too late, they said.

Anne Choy died on arrival at a nearby hospital; Jimmy Choy died later in the day after being airlifted to a Boston hospital.

Kenneth Choy, then 16, lived with the family after coming from Hong Kong, where his father - Jimmy Choy's son - had died.

Authorities initially praised Frances, but soon pieced together a plot they said was documented on paper found at the house. They charged the Brockton High School senior and her nephew with murder.

Frances was weeks away from graduating from high school, but she never marched at the 2003 commencement. Instead, she spent the day in jail and has been behind bars ever since, awaiting trial for murder and arson.

Classmates at Brockton High School said Frances had spoken of problems at home because her father was strict, but cared very much for her parents. Jimmy Choy reportedly suffered from cancer.

A teacher and classmates described Frances Choy as outgoing and an honor-roll student who worked hard for her grades. She was planning to attend college, they said.

Elaine Allegrini of The Enterprise of Brockton, Mass., can be reached at