Sometimes there is more to the story

July 2004

Sung-Ann Choi-Lee, 28, was heavily pregnant June 30 th when she called 911 and told them she had killed her husband, 30 year old Matthew Lee.

Reportedly he was asleep when she  attacked him in the bedroom of their home. When police arrived they found a bloody hammer and a kitchen knife in the bedroom, and Choi-Lee had a fine mist of blood on her. Mr. Lee had been stabbed multipe times all over his body and his head looked as though it had been beaten with a hammer according to  police.

After the murder, Choi-Lee had slit her wrists. Choi-Lee was taken to the hospital where she later gave birth to a son, via caesarean section. Reportedly the baby was almost full term, and was in good condition.

Sung-Ann Choi-Lee was charged with 2nd degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

October 2006

Sung-Ann Choi-Lee and Matthew Lee had been married for 11 months. Choi-Lee was a native of Korea, and had some language problems and was not familiar with US agencies. At some point she had sought help from a Korean clergymen for problems with abuse, but received no assistance.

Psychiatrists reported that Mrs. Choi-Lee suffered from major depressive disorder with severe psychotic disorders. They also said she suffered from severe post traumatic stress disorder. Evaluations from both the defense and the prosecution psychiatrists concluded that she had suffered from “unrelenting” rapes and beatings throughout the couple’s two year relationship.

The charges were reduced from 2nd degree homicide to manslaughter. After telling the judge “I’m sorry” Sung-Ann Choi-Lee received her sentence from the judge on Fri. The judge ordered a 5 year sentence in prison, with time served which may allow her to get out in 2 and a half years. The judge also ordered continued medical attention and psychiatric evaluation. She will be on 5 year post release supervision. And deportation is a possibility.

Per the judge on the case: “[Victims should] seek help,” “I find it very sad that the connection between [Ms. Choi] and these agencies was not made prior to the death of Matthew Lee.”

The child Choi-Lee gave birth to is now 2 years old and is living with his father’s grandparents. Per the defense attorney “She’s never going to see her child again,” “She’ll have to live with that.”

The judge in this case make a great point. Persons suffering from domestic violence may feel they don’t have choices…..but they do. They should seek out help, before it gets to the point of murder.

I don’t know if it happened in this case. But it does in a lot of cases. Many times after an episode of violence, the abuser will say they cannot live without the spouse or partner. They may threaten to harm themselves. And to be honest, that is always a possibility. But consider this- threatening suicide would be another way of controlling the spouse or partner. In effect saying if I commit suicide, it would be your fault. Suicide is a choice made by the individual, not the partner. No one makes a person commit suicide, except themselves.

Then consider this….. if a person stays in an abusive relationship, and if during the abuse the abuser does kill the partner, there is a good possibility they will then attempt or possibly commit suicide. Or what happens if the abused person can take it no longer, and snaps. Either way, there are deaths and grieving families. If the partner lives- he will most likely go to prison. By leaving the relationship, you could also be protecting not only yourself, your childen, and your family. You could also be protecting the person who was committing the abuse.

The family in this case asked for the maximum penalty for Choi-Lee. She took a life, and she has to take her punishment for that. In this case the judge did consider the mitigating circumstances, and while I am glad he did, that doesn’t always happen. But ultimately Choi-Lee will still be paying a very harsh penalty. She will never have a relationship with the child she gave birth to after the murder.



  1. silverside said,

    October 18, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    You are making a very big assumption regarding this woman’s choices. We already know that a Korean clergyman refused to help (unfortunately all too typical of the clergy). Just how was this woman to make sense of US domestic violence resources? Especially when she didn’t speak fluent English and she had PTSD from two years of rapes and beatings? It often seems that unless you work with people or know people who have survived unrelenting violence and trauma, you have to clue as to what they are up against. As far as I’m concerned, this was self-defense. It doesn’t seem to me that she had any meaningful choices at all.

    Plus, I do wonder if she’s a mail order bride.

  2. Halo said,

    March 15, 2008 at 6:01 am

  3. Still said,

    March 15, 2008 at 10:51 am

  4. Kir said,

    March 15, 2008 at 1:13 pm

  5. ohjam said,

    April 10, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    This is biggest BS I ever heard!! I knew Matthew since HS and one thing for sure was that he was one of the nicest guys in the world! Couldn’t harm a fly!! Rape??? How do you rape someone when you live with your mom in a small apt??? It’s a shame she can get away with this bs of a defense. Such a shame… I saw Matthew a day before he was killed.

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