TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — After displaying a final barrage of text messages and hearing testimony from police and the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Conrad Roy III, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rested its case in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michelle Carter Thursday afternoon.
The 20-year-old Plainville woman has been on trial since Monday, when she waived her right to a trial by jury. The bench trial is being presided over by Judge Lawrence Moniz.
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On the third and final day of testimony for the prosecution, two Massachusetts State Police troopers testified about how they extracted cell phone call and text records from the phones of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III and Michelle Carter.
Text messages represent the bulk of the evidence against Carter, who is accused of causing Roy’s death by convincing him to commit suicide. He did so on July 12, 2014 by hooking up a generator to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe in a former Kmart parking lot on Route 6 in Fairhaven.
“I don’t think I have it in me,” read a text message from Roy to Carter that was presented in court Thursday.
“I knew it,” Carter replied.
“Can you please stop rushing me,” Roy wrote. “Like I’m just thinking. My life is gonna end.”
Another message from Carter gave suggestions on how Roy might kill himself: “Hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself idk there’s lots of ways,” she wrote.
The two ultimately landed on using a generator to produce carbon monoxide, and discussed the plan at length.
Other messages highlighted by the prosecution showed Roy expressing doubt and fear about the suicide attempt and possibly experiencing pain.
“That’s why you have to do something quick that will end it without having to worry about the pain,” Carter texted.
Video released by the court as part of the prosecution’s evidence shows Conrad Roy just one month before his death, speaking into a camera about his mental health, admitting he has had suicidal thoughts but is trying to get better.
“I just want to be a better person,” Roy said in the video. “I want to recover from this, and I feel like I haven’t recovered from it yet.”
A spokesperson for the DA said the prosecution entered it as evidence to show Roy was trying to improve his life shortly before Carter began urging him in earnest to go through with suicide plans.
State Police Trooper Brock Morrissette testified about Roy’s call records on the day he died. He said Roy spoke to Carter on the phone first for 42 minutes, then for 46 minutes, with both calls pinging the cell tower just a mile from the Kmart parking lot where his body was found. After the final call ended around 8 p.m., Michelle Carter called Conrad Roy eleven times; he never answered the phone again.
Prosecutors have argued that during that final phone call, Roy started to feel the effects of the carbon monoxide and got out of the car. But Carter told him to get back in, according to a text message she sent a friend after his death.
The medical examiner testified it was impossible to determine the exact time of Roy’s death.
The court also released an audio recording of a police interview with Michelle Carter on October 2, 2014. Detective Scott Gordon spoke to Carter at her school, asking about her conversations with Roy.
“He was talking about it for a while,” Carter told the detective. “He told me that no one would be able to help him…I should have done something sooner.”
Gordon then presented her with a search warrant, according to the audio recording, and took her cell phone from her.
Defense Attorney Joseph Cataldo has highlighted different text messages from 2012 and 2013 that show Carter trying to stop Roy from attempting suicide, and urging him to seek treatment. He’s expected to call a psychiatrist to the stand who has said Carter was “involuntarily intoxicated” by antidepressants when she started telling Roy to kill himself.
Cataldo said he plans to file a motion for a judgment of not guilty. Judge Moniz said he would listen to arguments Friday morning and rule on the motion. If it is denied, the defense will begin calling witnesses Friday.
He declined to comment if Michelle Carter will take the stand.