TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Michelle Carter was “involuntarily intoxicated” by an antidepressant when she encouraged her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III to kill himself in 2014, according a psychiatrist who testified in Carter’s defense Monday.
Dr. Peter Breggin, who has not treated Carter but reviewed her medical records, text messages and other records for this case, said Roy dragged Carter into a “very dark place” before his death.
Carter is on trial for involuntary manslaughter, accused of causing Roy’s death by encouraging him to kill himself and allegedly telling him to get back into his truck that was filling with carbon monoxide on June 12, 2014. Roy’s body was found by police the following day in that truck in a Kmart parking lot in Fairhaven, Mass.
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Breggin, an expert witness hired by the defense, said he specializes in the effects of drugs on the brain. He testified that Celexa, the antidepressant Carter was taking, was not meant to be prescribed to minors. Carter was 17 at the time.
He pinpointed the “involuntary intoxication” to July 2, 2014, calling it a sudden “transformation” in Michelle Carter’s behavior. It was 10 days before Roy’s death.
Breggin said he reviewed messages between the two teens beginning in 2012, when the two met in Florida and began talking online. Roy attempted suicide in October of that year, and was hospitalized. Breggin pointed out messages where Carter attempted to stop Roy from suicide.
“You nhave [sic] so much to live for please don’t,” Carter wrote to Roy in a Facebook message dated October 10, 2012.
Up to about a month before Roy’s death, messages presented by the defense showed Carter was encouraging Roy to seek treatment for his suicidal thoughts. Breggin said Carter was “desperate” to help him.
The changeover, Dr. Breggin testified, began on July 2 when Carter “begins to help him go to heaven.” He said one of the symptoms of the intoxication was “grandiosity.”
“She has this power she imagines…not even thinking about things like criminal responsibility or whether this is bad,” Breggin testified. “She knows this is good…she’s found the way to finally help.”
That encouragement to commit suicide was detailed by the prosecution in the first week of the trial, when attorneys presented hundreds of text messages in which Carter urges Roy to take his own life.
“Hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself idk there’s lots of ways,” Carter texted Roy.
“Can you please stop rushing me,” Roy texted Carter in a different conversation. “Like I’m just thinking. My life is gonna end.”
Dr. Breggin also testified about the “black box warning” for the drug Celexa, which Conrad Roy was also taking.
“The black box warning specifically says there is an increased risk of suicide,” Breggin said. The risk is increased in patients under age 24, he testified.
Breggin will continue his testimony on Tuesday. Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo declined to comment Monday on whether he will call Carter to the stand.