By Beth David, Editor
In a surprise move on Monday, 6/5, Michelle Carter waived a jury trial, opting to have her case heard by Judge Lawrence Moniz. The trial started this week with witness testimony instead of jury selection.
Ms. Carter is being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the suicide death of Conrad Roy III. Mr. Roy’s body was found in his pickup truck in the KMart parking lot in Fairhaven on July 13, 2014. A gas-powered water pump was in the back seat of the crew cab. He died of carbon monoxide poisonin.
Detectives found hundreds of text messages from Ms. Carter encouraging Mr. Roy to kill himself, and helping him research ways to do it.
In the first three days of testimony, prosecutors painted the picture of a needy girl who craved attention from friends who rebuffed her. She resorted to incessant texts and other methods to get attention.
The defense, instead, pointed to instances when those very same friends texted encouraging words and praise for Ms. Carter.
In her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Maryclare Flynn said that Ms. Carter used Mr. Roy’s death to make people feel sorry for her. Ms. Flynn said that Mr. Roy would not have killled himself without the encouragement he got from the texts and phone calls.
Ms. Flynn said that Ms. Carter used Mr. Roy in her “sick game of life and death.”
By her own admission in texts and emails to friends, Ms. Carter said she was on the phone with Mr. Roy when he got out of the truck because he was scared, and she told him to get back in.
She also told people he was missing and she thought he had killed himself while she knew he was still alive, something Ms. Flynn called a “dry run” to make sure she would get the sympathy she craved.
Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo told the court that Mr. Roy killed himself. It was a suicide, not a homicide, he said. Ms. Carter was at home in Plainville at the time.
He talked about Mr. Roy’s previous attempts at suicide and said his death was a result of his own plan.
On Tuesday, Mr. Roy’s mother Lynn Roy testified, saying that the family barely new Ms. Carter, who told friends that Mr. Roy was her boyfriend.
Ms. Roy got emotional as she testified that her son was missing and that her husband saw the truck at KMart with emergency personnel around it.
“There’s yellow tape around our son’s truck,” she said her husband told her.
Then he told her that her son was inside.
She also said her son was spiritual and that he kept at least one set of rosary beads in his car.
Former Fairhaven police officer David Correia then told the court about how he started the search for Mr. Roy. After he left his mother’s house in Fairhaven, he spotted a dark colored Ford pickup truck.
He said he was following the vehicle trying to get close enough to see the license plate. The truck turned into the Kmart parking lot and he lost it. Then he saw Conrad’s vehicle out of corner of his eye.
Mr. Correia said he was not able to see Mr. Roy in the vehicle until he walked very close to it.
The prosecution made a point of noting the position of the body. The defense had made a claim in pre-trial proceedings that the truck was not seen in that spot overnight.
The court visited the KMart parking lot in Fairhaven on Wednesday to see where the truck was.
The prosecution showed photos of Mr. Roy’s body in the vehicle, with his head to the side. Not only did it show that he was difficult to see from a distance, but the photos also showed a red color to his skin, which is indicative of carbon monoxide poisoning. Family members cried openly in court when the photos were shown.
The judge would not allow a video that Mr. Roy made of himself to be shown in court, although it was entered into evidence. Because there is no jury, Judge Moniz said it was not necessary to play the whole video, that he would be sure to watch it.
Several of Ms. Carter’s former friends, Allie Eithier, Lexie Eblan, and Sam Boardman, testified about the text messages she sent to them about Mr. Roy’s death.
The prosecution used the texts to hammer home the point that Ms. Carter got sympathy and comfort from her friends, who had not been spending a lot of time with her.
The trial is expected to last at least through next week. An expert witness is expected to testify that Ms. Carter’s use of anti-depressants caused a big change in her, and that is why she started encouraging Mr. Roy to kill himself.
The three friends who testified this week said that they did not see a change in her behavior.
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