By Beth David, Editor
The case of Michelle Carter, the Plainville woman who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the suicide death of Conrad Roy III, will go to trial on Monday, 6/5. The final pre-trial hearing was held on Tuesday, 5/30.
A “Dwyer Hearing” was held on May 10 to determine which medical records would be allowed at trial. The defense sought to admit the mental health records of both Ms. Carter and Mr. Roy. The judge has ruled to allow those records, which include doctor, social worker, clinician and school records. Ms. Carter and Mr. Roy both spent time in treatment centers; Ms. Carter for an eating disorder, and Mr. Roy for depression.
In the latest pre-trial hearing, on 5/30, the district attorney’s office agreed with the defense’s request that the word “victim” not be used to describe Mr. Roy.
Judge Lawrence Moniz agreed with a caveat. He said neither side should expect that “if the word ‘victim’ slips out,” there will be a mistrial. He said all witnesses will be notified not to use the word.
Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn and defense attorney Joseph Cataldo mostly agreed on the finer points going into trial on Monday, but sparred in a couple of areas.
When the judge asked if there were any “unusual” issues, the two disagreed on what constituted unusual.
Ms. Rayburn said that she had received a list of 15 “character witnesses,” but got no details on which person they would be testifying about. Presumably, she said, they were mostly for Ms. Carter.
Ms. Rayburn noted that she had to find and match names on her own to figure out that they “appear to be people [Ms. Carter] knows.”
Mr. Cataldo said he would have to look at each name before he could say why he was calling each witness. He said there was nothing unusual about it in his opinion.
Ms. Rayburn said that in 18 murder trials, she had never had the same situation. She said she had to investigate the names on her own and asked “what character traits” they would be talking about, but all she got were the names.
“I said a number of times, I want a level playing field,” said Judge Moniz, adding that he does not like surprises in a trial, although “inevitably some happen.”
“I don’t like them generally,” he said.
Mr. Cataldo said he believed that nothing he was considering was unusual.
“There are certain pieces of evidence I don’t want to announce in court today,” said Mr. Cataldo.
Jury selection will begin on Monday. The judge will also hear arguments on a couple of other motions on either Monday or Tuesday, he said. Jury selection will take at least several days. The trial is expected to last a few weeks, possible running into the July 4 holiday.
Judge Moniz said he has not decided on a time limit for opening and closing arguments, but is probably going to be “more generous” with time for opening arguments.
“As an old partner of mine used to say, ‘no souls were saved after 15 minutes,’” said Judge Moniz.
Mr. Roy, 18, died from carbon monoxide poisoning on July l3, 2014. Police found text messages and emails from Ms. Carter encouraging Mr. Roy to kill himself. She was 17 years old and is being tried in juvenile court as an adult.
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