Michelle Carter is currently standing trial for allegedly urging her boyfriend to commit suicide by text message. Conrad Roy III was just 18-years-old when he killed himself in July 2014 by inhaling carbon monoxide in his pickup truck. According to prosecutors, then-17-year-old Michelle Carter badgered Roy into committing suicide, even making him promise to “do it” the day before his body was found in his pickup, reports CNN.
The case of Michelle Carter, who is now 20-years-old, is being handled in the juvenile system and overseen by Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz. It is being watched very closely by legal experts across the nation, as it could set a legal precedent for prosecuting those who encourage others to commit suicide.
Prosecutors handling the Michelle Carter case claim that the then-teenager was deliberately manipulative, pretending to be a loving girlfriend while reveling in the attention of having a boyfriend who committed suicide. According to prosecutors, the 20-year-old sent numerous text messages, blatantly encouraging Roy to commit suicide, even instructing him at times.
Michelle Carter’s defense team, however, says that Conrad Roy fully intended to commit suicide and that there was nothing that Carter could have done to stop him. In the months leading up to his death, Roy reportedly unsuccessfully attempted suicide several times.
In addition, reports CNN, a psychiatrist testifying on behalf of the defense testified on Monday that Michelle Carter was actually delusional during the time period in which she allegedly advised and even badgered her boyfriend into committing suicide. Dr. Peter Breggin testified that because of a recent change in her antidepressant medication, Carter was not in her right mind and “was unable to form intent” when Roy took his own life.
Further, the doctor testified that Michelle Carter was so out of touch with reality at the time of Conrad Roy’s suicide that she actually continued texting his phone for several weeks after he killed himself.
According to Breggin, Carter had “no nefarious intent” as she texted Roy and urged him to end his own life. The defense witness testified that Michelle Carter had spent years of her life taking the popular behavioral medication Prozac. However, just three months before Conrad Roy committed suicide allegedly at the urging of her texting, Carter switched from Prozac to Celexa, becoming “involuntarily intoxicated.”
Dr. Breggin went on to tell the court that the change of antidepressants could have impaired Carter’s brain in numerous ways, impacting her judgment, wisdom, love, empathy, and understanding – among other things. He also testified that because of her age, the impact could have been even more profound, as the adolescent brain is “more susceptible to harm and all intrusions.”
Breggin spoke directly to Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz about his theories regarding what was going on in Michelle Carter’s brain at the time of the texting-related suicide, confirming that he had reviewed Carter’s text messages, police records, and spoke to several people close to her. Judge Moniz will independently determine whether or not Michelle Carter is innocent or guilty at the conclusion of her trial, as the 20-year-old opted for a bench trial rather than a jury trial.
baloney— B (@bgdhall) June 12, 2017
#MichelleCarter did everything for Roy, Breggin said. Prosecutor puts up photos of Carter at the "Homers for Conrad" charity event.— Alban Murtishi (@AlbanMurtishi) June 12, 2017
Breggin indicates that, in #MichelleCarter's mind, she was texting to Conrad Roy "in heaven."— Bob McGovern (@BobMcGovernJr) June 12, 2017
This quys a quack— Terri (@Lovemypupper) June 12, 2017
The defense witness also testified that in addition to the text messages Michelle Carter sent to Conrad Roy, some of which have been construed as pressuring the teen to commit suicide, Roy was also texting Carter fairly consistently during the last several months of his life. In those texts, Roy reportedly wrote frequently about committing himself and going to heaven. Roy was reportedly plagued by visions of the devil, an image that haunted Carter’s nightmares.
In one message, Conrad Roy referred to his life as “an abortion.”
“My life’s an abortion. I just feel like my life’s a joke. My negative thoughts have controlled me to the point where I’m legit going insane.”
Conrad Roy also wrote to Michelle Carter of his desire that they find the same fate as Romeo and Juliet.
Psychiatrist claims medication transformed Michelle Carter from supportive 'helper' to apwrhetic maniac... https://t.co/wxhG95dVHb— Kathie Yount (@DGYmom) June 12, 2017
In his expert opinion, Dr. Breggin told the court that Michelle Carter would do “anything to help Roy.” In the case of his suicide, Breggin testified that he believed that Carter was simply trying to “help him” reach his goals of having a painless death and getting into heaven.
“She is not forming the criminal intent — ‘I’m gonna harm him. She’s found a way to use her unique power to help and to help this boyfriend — in her mind but not in his — to not keep making mistakes and not keep hurting himself.”
Michelle Carter is facing involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly pressuring Roy to commit suicide via texting. She has been labeled a “youthful offender” by prosecutors, a distinction that could result in a long prison sentence if she is found guilty.
[Featured Image by Faith Ninivaggi/The Boston Herald via AP Images]