The trial that is gripping the world: it doesn’t get sicker – a teenage girl prodding her boyfriend to die to seek sympathy and attention for herself.
- Prosecutors claim she wanted to play grieving girlfriend
- Researched logistics to ensure he would succeed
- Talked him out of doubts
- Assured him his family would understand
- Pushed him to get on with it
- Mocked his hesitation
- Ordered him to do it when he wavered
- Told friends she heard him die
- Waived right to jury trial, leaving her fate to judge
Michelle Carter, 20, is charged with involuntary manslaughter after she allegedly coaxed her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad Roy to commit suicide, purportedly documented in thousands of text messages. But Carter maintains her innocence.
Her trial in Taunton Juvenile Court, Massachusetts, began on Tuesday with prosecutor Maryclare Flynn saying, “She used Conrad as a pawn in a sick game of life and death for attention.”
Carter has waived her right to a jury trial, leaving her fate in the hands of the judge.
The case is potentially ground-breaking as Massachusetts has no law saying verbal encouragement of suicide is a crime.
If convicted, Carter could face 20 years in prison.
Witnesses describe Carter as lonely, starved for attention.
The testimony of several of Carter’s ex-classmates supported the prosecution’s argument that Carter didn’t have many friends and pushed Roy to suicide to play the grieving girlfriend to gain the sympathy and attention of friends she was pursuing.
Former classmates from King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham said she complained to them in lengthy text messages that she did not have a best friend to hang out with on a Friday or Saturday night and her peers did not like her and she did not know why.
Three former classmates testified how Carter texted them to say she was on the phone with Roy when he died.
In various text messages, she said:
“He just called me and there was a loud noise like a motor…I heard moaning…I stayed on the phone for like 20 minutes and that’s all I heard. I think he just killed himself.
“I helped ease him into it and told him it was okay…I could’ve easily stopped him or called the police but I didn’t.
“I do blame myself, it’s my fault. I was talking to him while he killed himself.
“I couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore. I started giving up because nothing I did was helping, but I should’ve tried harder…it’s my fault, I could’ve stopped him…all I had to say was, ‘I love you, don’t do this’ one more time, and he’d be here.”
On July 21, Carter texted former classmate Samantha Boardman, now 20, that Roy’s mother told her that detectives were going through Roy’s belongings.
“I just got off the phone with Conrad’s mom about 20 minutes ago and she told me that detectives had to come and go through his things and stuff. It’s something they have to do with suicides and homicides.
“And she said they have to go through his phone and see if anyone encouraged him to do it on texts and stuff. Sam, they read my messages with him I’m done. His family will hate me and I could go to jail,” Carter texted.
Carter and Roy resided in different towns and used text messages and phone calls to communicate.
Prosecutors said that Carter, then 17, exchanged 20,000 text messages with Roy, and more than 1,000 of those were sent in the days leading up to his death.
“She researched logistics and reassured him that he was likely to succeed,” the prosecution said.
On Jul 12, 2014, the day of his suicide, Roy and Carter exchange a flurry of text messages, starting with a message from Carter at 4:19 am. Roy expressed hesitation about killing himself, but Carter continued to pressure him, saying, “It’s time to do it today.”
“You just need to do it, Conrad,” she wrote.
In some of the exchanges, Carter appeared to be faulting Roy for delaying it.
“So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing…I’m just so confused like you were so ready and determined,” she said.
When Roy said he wanted to go back to sleep, Carter suggested that “now” is the best time to do it because everyone was still sleeping.
“Just go somewhere in your truck. And no one’s really out right now because it’s an awkward time,” she said.
In another text that same day, she kept pushing.
“I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready…just do it babe,” she said.
Roy was scared but Carter kept talking him into it and mocked him for not taking the drastic step once and for all.
According to prosecutors, Carter urged him to go to the parking lot where he eventually would die and texted, “You are ready and prepared, all you have to do is turn on the generator and you will be free and happy.”
Sitting in his pickup truck at the parking lot, Roy was scared and wavered about his plan to kill himself.
When Conrad jumped out of the vehicle, she told him, “Get back in.”
He ended his life by inhaling carbon monoxide in his Ford truck in the car park of a Kmart store.
However, her defence persisted that Roy’s death was a case of tragic suicide instead of homicide.
“Conrad Roy even acknowledged that Michelle Carter doesn’t have influence over him,” he said. “He was on this path to take his own life for years,” her defence said, citing several of Roy’s attempts to take his own life before July 2014.
The defence argued that Carter had previously tried to talk Roy out of harming himself and pointed to a conversation where Roy told Carter he regretted dragging her into his plans to kill himself.
“It is not a homicide,” lawyers for Carter said. “The evidence of the texting is overwhelming that Conrad Roy was on this path to take his own life for years.”
Prosecutors countered that Carter displayed frustration and anger when Roy delayed the plan and that she “ordered him back and then listened as he cried, took his last breath.”
The defence also contended that Carter struggled with her own depression and her attorney blamed her behaviour on the medications she was taking for an eating disorder and other mental illnesses.
But Assistant District Attorney Maryclare Flynn told the court: “She talked him out of his doubts, assured him that his family would understand and pushed him to stop procrastinating and get on with it, mocking his hesitation. Her behaviour was wanton and reckless and, because of her, Conrad is dead.”
After the tragedy, Carter took part in a charity baseball game in his memory, raised money for mental health awareness and sent comforting texts to his mother Lynn.
She also wrote on Twitter: “Such a beautiful soul gone too soon. You’ll forever be in my heart.”
Roy’s mother was tearful on the stand as she explained the state of her son’s mental health.
“I knew he was a little depressed but I thought…he was doing great. I mean, he just graduated from high school, got his captain’s license and I thought everything was moving forward, not backward,” she said.
Roy’s then-13-year-old sister testified that she received a text on the day of his death from Carter that read, “Find him yet?” She also said that just two days before his funeral, Carter asked for some of his ashes.