By Beth David, Editor
Michelle Carter, the Plainville woman facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the suicide death of Conrad Roy III in 2014, was in court last month on 12/19, for rulings on a series of discovery motions. She is due back in court for a pretrial conference on Monday, 1/23.
Mr. Roy was 18 when his body was found in the cab of his pickup truck on July 13, 2014, with a gasoline powered water pump in the vehicle with him. He died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Detectives uncovered text messages and emails between Ms. Carter and Mr. Roy and between Ms. Carter and her friends leading a grand jury to indict her on the charge.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the case should go forward, with much of their decision hinging on Ms. Carter’s admission in an email that she told Mr. Roy by phone to get back in the truck when he got scared and jumped out.
Texts and emails leading up to Mr. Roy’s death include many by Ms. Carter helping him plan the suicide, including what kind of motor to use, where to park his car, and encouraging him to go through with it.
Ms. Carter’s attorney Joseph Cataldo has argued that her texts and phone calls are protected speech under the First Amendment. Prosecutors claim that her speech goes beyond what is protected and played a coercive role in Mr. Roy’s death.
The case is being tried in juvenile court because Ms. Carter was 17 at the time, but she is being charged as an adult.
Judge Lawrence Moniz allowed most of the discovery motions last month, including the defense’s request to see the contents of a computer owned by Mr. Roy’s mother, Lynn Roy.
The computer contains a video that Mr. Roy made shortly before his death. According to Mr. Cataldo and court documents, Mr. Roy discusses his life in the video, saying he did not like his life, he was overwhelmed, “wired differently” and that something was “wrong” with him..
“If he made one video, he probably made others,” Mr. Cataldo told reporters after the hearing.
The judge also allowed a request for domestic violence records between Mr. Roy’s parents, but only incidents when Conrad was present, not all incidents as requested by the defense.
Mr. Cataldo said that he wanted more psychological and medical records, and had received the funds to consult experts on the drug Celexa, which both Mr. Roy and Ms. Carter were taking at the time.
Mr. Cataldo said there are many warnings about suicide ideation associated with the drug.
“There’s scientific evidence that it increases the rate of suicide,” said Mr. Cataldo. “I think it’s relevant.”
He said adolescent brain development and “impulsivity” of juveniles and how that is affected by the drug need to be explored.
Judge Moniz said he wanted the trial start on the first Monday of March, but did not set the date.
Mr. Cataldo had argued that he might not have enough time to go through all the material from expert witnesses, and asked for a late April date.
“That’s not happening,” said Judge Moniz. “That’s not happening.”
“There’s a lot of documents involved, a lot of expert witnesses involved, and a lot of work to put it together,” Mr. Cataldo told reporters after the hearing. “I don’t want to be rushed.”
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