Defense rests in manslaughter trial of Michelle Carter

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) — After more than a day of testimony from a psychiatrist, Michelle Carter’s defense attorney rested his case in her involuntary manslaughter trial.

Closing arguments in the trial are expected Tuesday afternoon.

Carter has been on trial since last week, accused of causing the death of her boyfriend Conrad Roy III back in 2014. Roy died by suicide, but prosecutors allege Carter’s constant urging that he commit the act directly led to his death.

The defense team’s final witness, Dr. Peter Breggin, testified that Carter was “involuntarily intoxicated” and “delusional” when she sent text messages encouraging Roy to go through with his suicide. Breggin is a psychiatrist who has never treated Carter as a patient but reviewed her medical records, text messages and interviewed people who know her for this case.

Breggin’s argument was that the antidepressant Celexa, which Carter started taking in April 2014, caused the “involuntary intoxication” that stopped her from having any notion of wrongdoing of her actions in July of that year. Conrad Roy killed himself on July 12, 2014 by using a generator to fill his pickup truck with carbon monoxide in a Fairhaven parking lot.

Breggin pinpointed Carter’s intoxication to July 2; ten days before Roy’s death.

In cross-examination Tuesday morning, the prosecution questioned Breggin about how Carter suddenly became intoxicated by the drug three months after she began taking it.

Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn also pointed to previous testimony and publications by Breggin that generally oppose SSRIs like Celexa.

Breggin said the drug should not have been prescribed to a child. Carter was 17 at the time. He also said Carter was struggling with her own problems like anorexia and cutting at the time Roy was contemplating suicide. Carter was briefly hospitalized for an eating disorder in June 2014.

Prosecutors spent most of the trial pointing to text communications between Carter and Roy in which Carter helps Roy plan his suicide and urges him to go through with it, even when he expresses doubts.

The prosecution also submitted evidence that they claim shows Carter was on the phone with Roy at the time he died and told him to get back into his truck when he started to feel the effects of carbon monoxide.

Carter waived her right to a jury at the beginning of the trial. Judge Lawrence Moniz will be rendering a verdict in the case.

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