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Crime

Judge Denies Request to Dismiss Case Against Michelle Carter For Allegedly Urging Boyfriend to Kill Himself

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Attorney Joseph Cataldo, left, with Michelle Carter
Faith Ninivaggi/The Boston Herald via AP

As the prosecution closed its case against Michelle Carter, who is accused of urging her teen boyfriend via texts and phone calls to kill himself, the judge denied her defense attorney’s request Friday to have her declared not guilty, according to media reports.

“The evidence is insufficient to show that she caused him to die,” attorney Joseph P. Cataldo had said in arguing his motion for acquittal, the Boston Herald reports.

Carter, now 20, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces 20 years in prison in the death of Conrad Roy, 18, whose body was found July 13, 2014, in his truck parked outside a Kmart in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prosecutors have argued in the trial that Carter, who was 17 at the time, encouraged the depressed young man whom she described as her boyfriend to act on his suicidal feelings, and that she did so in part to draw attention to herself.

Cataldo’s statements were countered by Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn, who said, “It is the very definition of recklessness what she did to him.”

The motion to dismiss ahead of calling any defense witnesses is standard procedure in criminal cases, and will be decided in Taunton District Court by Judge Lawrence Moniz, who is hearing the case without a jury at Carter’s request.

Text: ‘You Have to Do Something Quick’

On Thursday, the prosecution continued to enter into evidence several examples of the more than 1,000 texts exchanged between Carter and Roy in the week before he died, including those in which she suggested possible methods for him to kill himself.

“Hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself idk there’s a lot of ways,” Carter allegedly wrote to Roy on July 6, 2014, according to tweets by reporters attending the trial. The text was sent seven days before Roy’s body was discovered.

Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via AP

A day earlier, on July 5, Carter allegedly wrote to Roy: “You have to do something quick that will end it without having to worry about the pain.”

And on July 4, in another text, Carter allegedly wrote: “You said you wanted this bad, I knew you weren’t gonna try hard.”

In other testimony shared earlier in court, witnesses recalled that Carter described phone calls between her and Carter on the night he died. In one instance she texted a friend, “I heard him die.”

Carter has pleaded not guilty. Cataldo, her defense attorney, noted that selective reading of the texts by investigators overlooks others in which Carter encouraged Roy to get help.

Michelle Carter, left, and Conrad Roy
Source: Michelle Carter/Facebook; Source: Conrad Roy/Facebook

On the stand Thursday, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Bates read a text from Roy to Carter that said, “I keep regretting the past it’s getting me upset,” CBSBoston reports.

Carter responded by writing: “Take your life?”

“Do you think I should,” Roy wrote back.

Roy, who recently had earned his sea captain’s license and been accepted to college and was remembered by his friends as funny, nonetheless struggled with anxiety and depression. He was known to have tried suicide at least once previously, those friends said.

Bates said Carter had discussed options via text with Roy for suicide that included sleeping pills.

“I just don’t want the pain,” Roy wrote.

Challenged by Carter’s defense attorney, Bates acknowledged that in other texts, Carter offers Roy help to counter his depression.

‘I Have a Lot to Offer Someone’

Also in court Thursday, the prosecution played videos made by Roy on June 13, 2014 — exactly one month before his body was found — which were discovered on his computer after he died. (An autopsy could not pinpoint the time of his death, although his final text exchanges with Carter take place on the night of July 14.)

“This is Conrad Henry Roy III reporting to you about what’s going on through my mind. What’s going on through my head the last few days,” Roy began on one video, according to reports. “I’m trying to do too much to better myself in so little time.” 

While he describes his ambition to make changes and better fit in, he also says: “What I am doing is looking at myself so negatively. Look at myself minuscule, little particle on the face of this earth. No-good trash. Will never be successful. Never have no life, never have kids, never, never learn. … 

“But I have a lot to offer someone,” Roy said. “I’m introverted, nice and caring. With some benefits. I’m a nice kid. But it comes to a point where I’m just … too nice.”

The prosecution wrapped its case Thursday, on the third day of testimony.

Suicide Prevention: What to Know

Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).

Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.

Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.

If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.