Update: A judge found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter on June 16. Read the full story.
TAUNTON — Conrad Roy III was desperate, and craved escape from all that haunted him.
“I can’t take the pain,” Roy wrote in an undated suicide note to his father. “I did this to be finally happy . . . I don’t feel like I belong here.”
He would see his father again “someday in heaven,” he wrote.
The 18-year-old also left a note for his girlfriend, 17-year-old Michelle Carter. In a handwritten message in a spiral notebook, he thanked her for the kindness she had shown him and her efforts to help him.
Roy’s anguished words were presented Tuesday in Bristol County Juvenile Court on the final day of Carter’s trial for allegedly pressuring Roy to take his own life in a Fairhaven parking lot in 2014. But in his closing argument, Carter’s lawyer, Joseph P. Cataldo, said Roy was intent on committing suicide, and “dragged” Carter along on his “sad journey.”
“This is somebody who wanted to eventually take his own life. It was his decision,” Cataldo said. “It’s sad, it’s tragic, but it’s just not a homicide.”
Bristol Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn said Carter relentlessly urged Roy to take his own life, and berated him when he hesitated. Roy’s suicide note came at her request, she said.
“It got to the point where he was apologizing to her, apologizing for letting her down, and for not being dead yet,” Rayburn said in her concluding remarks. “Her words of encouragement are throughout, but are especially prevalent when he has doubts. She told him to get back into the car and she knew he was going to die.”
Roy, of Mattapoisett, killed himself on July 12, 2014, by inhaling carbon monoxide generated by a gasoline-powered water pump that he put in his pickup truck. The unusual prosecution, which has drawn national interest, hinges on whether Carter’s chilling words of encouragement were so reckless that she should be held criminally responsible for his death.
She is charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Judge Lawrence Moniz, who is presiding over the jury-waived case, said he will render a verdict at a later date.
Rayburn, the prosecutor, said Carter used Roy’s death to get attention from girls she wanted to befriend, and that she engaged in a “dry run” two days before his death by telling friends he was missing. She later texted him about a generator and began to pressure him to take his life.
“Now she’s stuck and her friends are asking questions," Rayburn said. "Time is starting to run out. Now he’s got to kill himself, because she can’t be a liar.”
The 18-year-old wanted to be seen as the “grieving girlfriend,” and was intent on getting the attention she had long wanted, Rayburn said.
But Cataldo said Roy would have killed himself without Carter’s involvement, noting his history of suicide attempts dating back to 2011, a year before he met Carter through their families in Florida. Carter, facing her own mental health struggles and side effects from prescription medicine, became “overwhelmed” by Roy’s suicidal thinking, he said.
“It was his constant wearing on Michelle Carter for over a year and a half of ‘I want to take my own life,’ ” he said.
It was Roy’s own “physical” actions that caused his death, he said. Carter was 30 miles away at the time, he noted.
Rayburn countered that Carter’s words — in text messages and phone conversations —
“Phones allow you to be virtually present,” Rayburn said. “People fall in love over the Internet and text, people bully over the Internet, you can encourage someone to die via text, and you can commit a crime via text.”
Rayburn said Roy did not truly want to die. He kept coming up with reasons to put it off, she said.
But “every time he came up with an excuse, she kicked his feet right out from under him,” she said.
When Roy had gotten out of the pickup truck where he planned to kill himself, Carter told him over the phone to get back in, she said.
“She wasn’t going to let him live,” she said. “That was her decision.”
Carter continued to send Roy text messages months after his death, court records show.
Roy’s mother sobbed in the courtroom and left several times during closing arguments. Roy’s sister, Camdyn, had tears in her eyes.
In his suicide note to Carter, Roy wrote “I love you and greatly appreciate ur effort and kindness towards me.
“I’ll forever be in your heart and we will meet up someday in Heaven.”