TAUNTON — In the weeks before he took his own life in 2014, Conrad Roy III was troubled, desperate to stop the pain. At times, he seemed to think that suicide was the answer, but wasn’t sure he wanted to die.
His indecision frustrated his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, who prosecutors say committed involuntary manslaughter by pressuring Roy, 18, to kill himself.
“I don’t think I have it in me,” Roy texted Carter one week before police found him dead in his pickup truck in a Fairhaven parking lot.
“I knew it,” Carter, 17, responded.
“I’m too scared,” Roy wrote. “You’re right. I don’t have it in me.”
On Thursday in Bristol Juvenile Court, prosecutors sought to portray Carter as a manipulative bully who recklessly goaded Roy into killing himself. On the third day of Carter’s trial, prosecutors zeroed in on a series of disturbing text messages exchanged in the days before Roy’s death.
“Are you gonna do it tonight?” Carter asked on July 3.
“I’m gonna try,” Roy responded.
“How hard are you gonna try?” she asked.
“Hard,” he said.
Carter continued to press the teenager, asking how he planned to take his life. When he said he didn’t know, she told him he wasn’t serious about it.
“How bad do you want it because if you want it bad, you should succeed,” she said to him.
Roy, of Mattapoisett, killed himself July 12 by inhaling a deadly dose of carbon monoxide generated by a gasoline-powered water pump that he had installed in his truck.
Carter’s lawyer, Joseph P. Cataldo, said the text messages did not tell the full story, and said he will file a motion on Friday asking Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz to issue a finding of not guilty due to insufficient evidence. Moniz is serving as fact-finder in the jury-waived trial. Carter faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Over three days, prosecutors painted Carter as an attention-starved teenager who was desperate to improve her social standing, even by being seen as the “grieving girlfriend.”
Carter’s lawyers have said that Roy was a troubled teen who had attempted suicide multiple times. Carter had tried to help Roy by sending information on hospitals and mental health services, they said.
Carter had issues of her own. She struggled with an eating disorder, self-inflicted pain, and suicidal thoughts, she wrote to her peers in text messages.
For months, she and Roy discussed various ways of committing suicide, the level of pain one might endure, and the likelihood that the attempt would be successful, according to text messages presented in court Thursday. Carter eventually became annoyed that Roy hadn’t followed through.
“So it didn’t work?” she texted him. “You said you wanted this bad. I knew you weren’t going to try hard. I feel like such an idiot . . . You lied about the whole thing. You said you were gonna go to the woods, I thought you really wanted to die. But apparently you don’t. I feel played and stupid.”
After Roy tried to overdose on Nyquil and Tylenol, Carter scolded him for “purposefully” taking too little, and suggested he take 10 doses of Benadryl and a bottle of Tylenol. When he expressed reservations, she told him to “Hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself. I don’t know. There’s lots of ways.”
Two days later, Roy wrote her “How was your day?”
Carter responded: “When are you doing it?”
When police found Roy, his skin had turned “cherry red” and the carbon monoxide levels in his blood had reached 71 percent, Dr. Faryl Sandler, a state medical examiner, testified on Thursday.
Sandler said a person exposed to carbon monoxide would begin coughing within two minutes and lapse into unconsciousness after 13 minutes. A person typically dies after 20 minutes of exposure.
Carter told her peers that she listened over the phone as Roy died, and that she never notified authorities or his family. She told one friend that she could have stopped him, “but I told him to get back in the car.”