Psychiatrist expected to testify Monday in Michelle Carter trial

Michelle Carter June 9 by Pool Photographer Glenn Silva
Michelle Carter at trial on June 9, 2017 Photo: Pool Photog Glenn Silva

TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Conrad Roy III looked at websites with titles like “How can someone die from drinking too much water?” and “Suicide by cop” in the weeks before his death, according to exhibits submitted by Michelle Carter’s defense attorney on Friday.

Attorney Joseph Cataldo argued the internet searches show that Roy was already suicidal and made his own choice to kill himself in July 2014, despite text messages from Carter encouraging him to do it.

Cataldo began calling witnesses in Carter’s involuntary manslaughter trial Friday after a judge denied his motion to dismiss the case.

Cataldo submitted the motion for a verdict of not guilty after the prosecution rested its case, arguing that the Commonwealth had not met its burden of proof for the accusation that Carter caused her boyfriend’s death.

“There is no statute in Massachusetts outlawing suicide,” Cataldo argued Friday morning. “There is no statute in Massachusetts saying it is against the law to assist or help in a suicide.”

“I would respectfully suggest the Commonwealth has met its burden on the crime of manslaughter,” Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn countered. “I would suggest to you that this not protected speech. She was reckless your honor, and she caused his death.”

Judge Lawrence Moniz sided with the prosecution, ruling that the trial will continue. He will ultimately decide the verdict, because Carter waived her right to a jury trial.

Carter has been on trial since Monday for allegedly causing Roy’s death by urging him to commit suicide. He did so on July 12, 2014 by attaching a generator to his truck and allowing it to fill with carbon monoxide in a Fairhaven parking lot.

The defense declined to comment if Michelle Carter, now 20, will testify in her own defense.

Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo has argued that Roy’s death was a “tragic suicide,” not a homicide. On Thursday, while cross-examining the medical examiner who performed Roy’s autopsy, he pointed out that his manner of death was listed as “suicide.”

Cataldo also submitted evidence Friday that showed Roy had texted screenshots to Carter of websites describing the effects of carbon monoxide on a person, and information about generators.

Another witness on Friday, Officer Dennis Tavares from the Mattapoisett Police Department, testified that he arrested Conrad Roy III’s father, Conrad Roy Jr., in February 2014 for domestic assault and battery. The officer said both the elder Roy’s girlfriend and the teenage Roy were present, although the judge stopped him from disclosing who the victim of the alleged assault was.

Cataldo said he plans to call Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist being paid by the defense, to testify on Monday about the the effects of antidepressants on the adolescent brain.

Breggin said in pre-trial hearings that he believed Carter to be “intoxicated” by the drugs, which he said should not have been prescribed to a minor, when she sent the texts messages encouraging Roy to take his own life.

The prosecution argued during two and a half days of testimony that Carter is responsible for Roy’s death because she allegedly convinced him to kill himself, and even told him to get back in his truck after he started to feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and exited the vehicle.

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