TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) – The trial of a woman accused of encouraging a friend to commit suicide got underway in a Taunton courtroom Tuesday.
Following a brief motion, opening statements in the Michelle Carter trial got underway around 9:30 a.m.
Carter waived her right to a jury trial Monday, shortly before jury selection was set to get underway. Instead, Judge Lawrence Moniz will preside over a bench trial.
Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly encouraging her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy, to kill himself in Fairhaven in July of 2014. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to prosecutors, Carter and Roy met online and were involved in a romantic relationship.
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Prosecutors said that Carter, 17 years old at the time, had sent Roy numerous text messages repeatedly telling him to follow through on a plan to kill himself. Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn said there are 20,000 text messages related to the case.
“You can’t think about,” Carter allegedly wrote in one of the text messages. “You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t.”
The judge will be tasked with determining if the unique set of facts fall under the involuntary manslaughter statute in Massachusetts.
The prosecution’s witness list released before the trial includes dozens of people, from members of the Roy family to police and paramedics.
The defense plans to call members of the Carter family along with some expert witnesses. One of them, Dr. Peter Breggin, claims that Carter was “intoxicated” by anti-depressants she was taking that should not have been prescribed to a teenager. The prosecution tried to have Breggin’s testimony excluded from the trial.
The trial was to have begun earlier this year but in February, the defense team asked for the delay until June in order to review what they called the “enormous” amount of evidence in the case, including computers and text messages.