Defense attorney shares different side to Plainville teen in suicide trial

Lawyers for a Plainville teen accused of encouraging her friend to commit suicide through text are sharing messages that, they said, tell a different story.

Wearing a ponytail and blue nail polish, Michelle Carter looks like most teenage girls. But instead of going to college this fall, Carter is going to court.

She’s charged with manslaughter for texting her suicidal friend the unthinkable: to go ahead and kill himself.

“He texted her, ‘How’s your day?'” said prosecutor Katie Rayburn. “She said, ‘When are you gonna do it?'”

Prosecutors argue Carter encouraged and pressured Conrad Roy into taking his own life, sending him dozens of messages like:

“You need to stop thinking about this and just do it. Your parents know you’re in a bad place. I’m not saying they want you to do it but I honestly feel like they can accept it. You can’t keep pushing this off. That’s all you keep doing.”

But Carter’s lawyer, Joe Cataldo, said those texts don’t tell the whole story.

“From October 2012 where he first tells her, ‘I’ve tried to kill myself, I’m going to succeed, I’m eventually going to kill myself,'” said Cataldo, “from that moment in time all the way until late June 2014, it’s ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.'”

Cataldo showed 7News thousands of text messages the two teens shared over a two-year period.

Cataldo said Carter sent Roy this message in the three weeks before his death:

“You’re my first thought in the morning and the last thought before I fall asleep. I’m scared that when I talk to you it will be the last time.”

The next day, she said:

“I need to know that you’re okay and that you aren’t gonna do anything.”

Days later, she sent this message:

“I’m sorry what I’ve been doing isn’t enough. You know I’m trying my absolute hardest.”

Roy responded:

“You don’t understand. I want to die!”

Cataldo said, at one point, Carter told Roy the doctors who are treating her at McLean Hospital can help him too:

“The mental hospital would help you. I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life. Part of me just wants you to try something and fail just so you can go get help.”

“She goes as far as to send him links of how to get better,” said Cataldo, “but she also says, ‘You need professional help. Don’t lay this on me I can’t help you.'”

Prosecutors said on the evening of July 12, 2014, Roy drove to a parking lot in Fairhaven with a combustion engine, rolled up the windows and started the generator.

The next day, the 18-year-old was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Prosecutors allege, at the time Roy was dying, he was on the phone with Carter, and at one point, when he got out of the truck, prosecutors said Carter told him to get back in.

“She’s not just encouraging him,” said Rayburn. “Through technology, she was taking part as though she’s there next to him.”

But Carter’s lawyer argues, no matter what you think of her, she’s not guilty of manslaughter.

“The idea that Michelle Carter caused his death, taking no physical actions, I think is just over the top,” said Cataldo. “The public can speculate and say, ‘We don’t like her speech, we don’t like the fact that she said those things in text messages.’ But ultimately, he committed suicide.  She did not commit a homicide.”

Roy’s father said he did not want to jeopardize the case by commenting.

Prosecutors also told 7News they will not be making any public statements at this time.

The case goes back to court in October.