By Beth David, Editor
In two decisions that came down on Wednesday just before press time, Judge Lawrence Moniz allowed Michelle Carter’s motion for one expert, but denied the other.
Ms. Carter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the suicide death of Conrad Roy III. The prosecution contends that Ms. Carter’s encouragement in texts and phone calls contributed to Mr. Roy’s death. The defense maintains that her texts and phone calls are protected by the first amendment.
The trial is set for the first week in June. Meanwhile, the defense asked for testimony from two experts be allowed at trial: psychiatrist Peter Breggin, MD; and psychologist Frank DiCataldo. In a hearing held on two different days, the court heard from both experts to determine if the testimony they would provide, would be relevant to the case.
Judge Moniz decided to allow Dr. Breggin’s testimony, but not Dr. DiCataldo’s.
Dr. Breggin will testify about the effects that SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have on the brain, and especially the adolescent brain. Ms. Carter was 17 at the time of Mr. Roy’s death. He was 18. Both were taking Celexa.
In his ruling, Judge Moniz said that the court is “satisfied as to the qualifications of Dr. Breggin to testify as an expert.”
In addition to testimony about SSRIs and how it affects adolescents, Dr. Breggin will be allowed to testify about domestic violence and its impact on children, specifically on Mr. Roy.
Judge Moniz denied the defense’s motion to allow Dr. DiCataldo to testify at trial in June. The judge said in his ruling tha Dr. DiCataldo did not have any specific information relating to the case. He did not interview Ms. Carter, and was basing his opinion simply on the fact that she was under 18, being 17 years and 11 months old at the time of Mr. Roy’s death.
Judge Moniz wrote that because he would be speaking in general terms and applying it theoretically to Ms. Carter that the testimony would require the jury to “venture into an area they are not qualified to determine, leading to speculation and uninformed analysis.
He said it would “likely confuse the jury.”
Ms. Carter is due back in court on May 10 for a Dwyer Hearing, which will determine which medical records will be allowed at trial. The defense is seeking to have the medical records included. The case is being heard at Taunton Juvenile Court because Ms. Carter was under 18 at the time. She is being tried as an adult.
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