Teen’s lawyer seeks dismissal of manslaughter charge

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A recent high school graduate accused of encouraging a friend to take his own life was back in court Tuesday.

In a brief pretrial hearing, a lawyer for Michelle Carter filed a motion to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge against her.

Prosecutors say Carter coaxed 18-year-old Conrad Roy III of Mattapoisett to commit suicide, texting back and forth with him before Roy killed himself in a running vehicle outside a Fairhaven store. He died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to police.

Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, contends that encouraging someone to commit suicide is not a crime under Massachusetts law. He said Carter was 30 miles away at the time of Roy’s death, and that she had not seen him in a year.

Carter, 18, recently graduated King Philip Regional High School with honors. Her parents sat behind her at New Bedford Juvenile Court, while Roy’s family appeared to fill the back row.

Carter was 17 at the time of the crime and was charged as a youthful offender, which means her case is open and she could face punishment as an adult if convicted.

Cataldo asked the judge for a special prosecutor in the case because the victim is related to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn. The judge denied the request, however, saying Cataldo failed to demonstrate conflict of interest.

Lawyers set an August 24 court date for a motion to dismiss hearing. In the meantime, Carter is free on bail.

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