Defense begins calling witnesses in texting suicide case after judge denies motion to dismiss

Michelle Carter, 20, is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

ByABC News
June 9, 2017, 2:24 PM

— -- After a Massachusetts judge today denied a motion to dismiss charges against Michelle Carter, a 20-year-old charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly urging her then-boyfriend to commit suicide, the defense began calling witnesses.

Conrad Roy was 18 when he died in July 2014 of carbon monoxide poisoning after locking himself in his truck.

The prosecution claims Carter, then 17, was reckless and caused his death by telling him to get back in the car even though he didn't want to die. But Carter maintains her innocence.

Digital forensic analyst Steven Verronneau, who processed electronics in the case, testified for the defense today that Roy had searched online about ways to commit suicide.

Roy's phone indicated that Roy had blocked some people from calling him and Carter wasn't on the list, Verronneau said.

Under cross-examination, Verronneau said some messages from the month Roy committed suicide were deleted from Carter's phone.

During re-direct Verronneau said that on July 11, 2014, Roy sent a website screenshot about carbon monoxide to Carter. That day Roy also sent Carter an image of a portable generator.

Carter's trial began Tuesday with prosecutor Maryclare Flynn saying that Carter "used Conrad as a pawn in a sick game of life and death for attention." The testimony of several of Carter's classmates Wednesday supported the prosecution's argument that Carter didn't have many friends and pushed Roy to suicide to get more attention from the friends she was pursuing.

Prosecutors said Carter exchanged more than 1,000 text messages with Roy in the days leading up to his death. The two teens mostly communicated via text and phone; the two rarely saw each other in person even though they lived within 35 miles of each other, The Associated Press reported.

Carter texted Roy that he kept "over thinking it" and "pushing it off."

"You just need to do it, Conrad," she wrote.

In one message, as reported by the AP, read during testimony from a state trooper Thursday, Carter wrote to Roy about ways he could commit suicide: "Hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself idk [I don't know] there's a lot of ways."

There were also texts in which Carter tried to help Roy, the AP said.

The defense argued that Carter had tried before to talk Roy out of harming himself and the defense 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."

The defense added, "Even if somebody supports another individual in a suicide, it doesn’t create a homicide."

Meanwhile, 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."

Prosecutors said that when Roy got out of the car the day of his suicide, she "ordered him back and then listened as he cried, took his last breath."

According to testimony from this week, on July 12, 2014, the day of Roy's suicide, Carter texted a classmate, "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."

On July 14, according to testimony, Carter texted a classmate, "I do blame myself, it's my fault. I was talking to him while he killed himself."

On July 21, Carter texted a classmate that Roy's mother told her that detectives were going through Roy's belongings. "They have to go through his phone and see if anyone encouraged him to do it," Carter texted. "I’m done. His family will hate me and I could go to jail."

Carter texted a classmate in September 2014, "I could’ve stopped him." Carter texted that she and Roy were on the phone the day of his suicide in July when Roy "got out of the car ... he was scared."

Carter texted that she "told him to get back in."

“I couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore," Carter texted the classmate. "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."

The defense on Tuesday said Carter struggled with her own depression and her attorney blamed her behavior on the medications she was taking.

Carter waived her jury trial, leaving her fate in the hands of the judge. If convicted Carter could face 20 years in prison.