Conrad Roy III: Michelle Carter’s Suicide Texts Put Free Speech And Assisted Suicide On Trial, Not Murder?

In the tragic death of Conrad Roy, Michelle Carter’s suicide texts are the primary evidence in the murder trial. But Carter’s lawyers argue that her suicide texts amount to free speech protected by the U.S. First Amendment, not manslaughter. Other legal experts say the charge of manslaughter is difficult due to the laws surrounding assisted suicide.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, attorney Joseph P. Cataldo told the judge that it was actually Conrad Roy who was responsible for Michelle Carter’s suicide plan. The lawyer claims Roy actually “brainwashed” Carter into going along with his plan.

“He ultimately persuaded a young, impressionable girl,” Cataldo claims. “Eventually he gets her to endorse his plan.”

The 18-year-old boyfriend had a history of depression, and two years before his death he overdosed on the painkiller acetaminophen in a suicide attempt. Conrad told Michelle that he wanted to commit suicide together “like Romeo and Juliet,” but Carter initially rejected this plan. But shortly before Roy’s death, she texted, “You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did the last time and not think about it and just do it, babe.”

Defense lawyers had tried to have the case dismissed completely, but the judge had Michelle Carter charged with involuntary manslaughter over the 2014 suicide. Prosecutors argue that Carter caused her boyfriend’s death by “wantonly and recklessly” helping him come up with the plan involving a gas generator. But Carter’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, argues that the text exchanges prove that Roy made up his own mind to commit suicide.

“He got the generator, he devised the plan and he had to go find a spot. He parked, he had to get the gas for the generator, he had to turn the generator on, he had to sit in that car for a long period of time. He caused his own death,” Cataldo said, according to the Associated Press. “He had thought this out. He wanted to take his own life. It’s sad, but it’s not manslaughter.”

Cataldo argues that Michelle Carter’s suicide texts were preceded by conversations where Carter attempted to stop Conrad Roy’s death. He claims Carter only supported the plan after she’d already suggested he seek mental treatment at a psychiatric hospital and it became clear she could not change his mind.

Roy’s grandfather, also named Conrad, does not agree with this assessment since he says his grandson’s depression had been improving.

“He was coming out of his depression,” Roy said. “We saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and she just blew that tunnel up. She shut the light off.”

Some legal experts also believe the Michelle Carter trial is difficult since prosecution made a stretch when they charged her with manslaughter. The reason it’s a reach is because the state of Massachusetts does not have a law against assisted suicide.

“Causation is going to be a vital part of this case,” said Daniel Medwed, a Northeastern University law professor. “Can the prosecution prove that she caused him to kill himself in this way? Would he have done it anyway?”

Michelle Carter’s lawyer also argues that the text messages can’t be used as evidence in a murder trial since they allegedly would be protected under the First Amendment as free speech.

“I continue to maintain that no crime was committed,” Cataldo said. “Michelle took no actions and her speech in the form of text messages and telephone calls do not amount to a crime…. Although the district attorney’s office does not like the content of the speech, it is speech which is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment and is not criminalized under our laws.”

What do you think?

[Image via Roy Family]