TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Michelle Carter’s defense team will begin calling witnesses in her involuntary manslaughter trial Friday after a judge denied their motion to dismiss the case.
Judge Lawrence Moniz ruled against defense attorney Joseph Cataldo, who filed a motion for a judgment of not guilty after the prosecution rested its case, arguing that the Commonwealth had not met its burden of proof for the accusation that Carter caused the death of her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III.
“There is no statute in Massachusetts outlawing suicide,” Cataldo argued Friday morning. “There is no statute in Massachusetts saying it is against the law to assist or help in a suicide.”
“I would respectfully suggest the Commonwealth has met its burden on the crime of manslaughter,” Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn countered. “I would suggest to you that this not protected speech. She was reckless your honor, and she caused his death.”
Judge Moniz sided with the prosecution, ruling that the trial will continue. He will ultimately decide the verdict, because Carter waived her right to a jury trial.
Carter has been on trial since Monday for allegedly causing Roy’s death by urging him to commit suicide. He did so on July 12, 2014 by attaching a generator to his truck and allowing it to fill with carbon monoxide in a Fairhaven parking lot.
The defense has not revealed if Michelle Carter, now 20, will testify in her own defense.
Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo has argued that Roy’s death was a “tragic suicide,” not a homicide. On Thursday, while cross-examining the medical examiner who performed Roy’s autopsy, he pointed out that his manner of death was listed as “suicide.”
Cataldo is also expected to call Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist being paid by the defense, to testify about the the effects of antidepressants on the adolescent brain.
Breggin said in pre-trial hearings that he believed Carter to be “involuntarily intoxicated” by the drugs, which he said should not have been prescribed to a minor, when she sent the texts messages encouraging Roy to take his own life.
The prosecution argued during two and a half days of testimony that Carter is responsible for Roy’s death because she allegedly convinced him to kill himself, and even told him to get back in his truck after he started to feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and exited the vehicle.
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