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Man Who Killed Choi’s Kimchi Founder Matt Choi Sentenced to at Least 25 Years in Prison

Allen Alonzo Coe pled guilty to second-degree murder of Choi, who was killed in his Southeast Portland apartment in 2020

Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

On Friday, the man who fatally stabbed Choi’s Kimchi co-founder Matt Choi was sentenced to life in prison, with possibility of parole after 25 years, the Oregonian reports. Allen Alonzo Coe pled guilty to the second-degree murder in the October 25, 2020 death of Choi, attempted first-degree murder of Choi’s girlfriend, Jenny Kwon, and first-degree burglary.

According to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, Coe entered Choi’s Southeast Portland apartment just before 2 a.m., waking Kwon. After Choi had approached Coe and Kwon announced that she had called 911, Coe attempted to stab her. Choi pulled Coe away from his girlfriend, before Coe stabbed him several times in the chest. Choi later died at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

A week later, Coe had stolen a car in Milwaukie, which he said was intended to provoke police into fatally shooting him. Using security footage and interviews with other residents of the building, police identified Coe as a suspect in Choi’s murder.

Coe apologized at the sentencing, reading a poem he wrote about mental illness and addiction. “I’m just a man who lost his way,” he said.

In 2011, Choi founded Portland’s popular kimchi brand, Choi’s Kimchi, with his mother, Chong Suk Choi. The family’s kimchi became a hit at Portland farmers markets, before growing into a nationally distributed kimchi brand. Choi’s Kimchi has been used by Shake Shack for menu items, has won several Good Food Awards, and is regularly found at Portland restaurants and grocery stores. But Matt Choi wasn’t just a successful businessman; he supported other makers and chefs in the Pacific Northwest, offering guidance and advice frequently to those who asked.

“He had a bright future,” Suk Choi said at the sentencing. “The person who committed this crime took everything away from me and my family.”

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