Key evidence was withheld from Michelle Carter texting suicide trial, say her lawyers
Texts between Carter and her boyfriend were ‘cherry-picked,’ according to her defense
Prosecutors have been accused of ignoring key evidence in the trial of Michelle Carter, the teen found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after she convinced her boyfriend to kill himself. The attorneys representing Carter have argued that bombshell text messages were withheld by the lawyers prosecuting her, which they say show a previously unseen compassionate side to her conversations with Conrad Roy III.
Roy died by carbon monoxide poisoning after Carter bombarded him with texts telling him to take his own life. "You need to stop thinking about this and just do it," she said. "You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never."
But according to a legal brief filed by Carter's lawyers as part of her appeal, this was just one side to the story. They claim the prosecution used "cherry-picked" evidence and left out text messages that could have changed the course of her trial.
One of those texts sent by Carter, obtained by People, reads: "I'm not giving up on you, it’s just every time I try to help you don’t listen."
According to the brief, Carter told him to get help for his suicidal thoughts. "You aren’t gonna get better on your own… you need professional help…" Her lawyers say she even suggested her and Roy go to counseling at the same time: "We can go together so we will be there for each other."
The brief adds a crucial text was misrepresented at the trial. One of the messages she sent read: "I fucken told him to get back in… His death is my fault." This message, according to Carter's legal team, was raised at trial as if she sent it to Roy directly – when in fact she texted it to friends months later.
Her appeal adds: "It was Roy, not Carter, who researched the idea, developed the details, obtained the necessary equipment, picked the spot to park his truck, and put his fatal plan in motion."
This brief will come as a surprise to those who followed Carter's case last year. At the trial, text after text was presented by the prosecution to paint Carter as playing a "sick game of life and death," who pelted his phone with texts and ultimately drove him to suicide.
"You can’t think about it," she texted him. "You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t."
When Roy hesitated, and told her he was having second thoughts, she sent long messages telling him to urge him on:
"You’re so hesitant because you keeping over thinking it and keep pushing it off. You just need to do it, Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you. You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you will be free and happy. No more pushing it off. No more waiting."
She also sent him information she researched on suicide methods – how to ensure he died by carbon monoxide, how long it would take, the equipment he would need to purchase, and how it would be "all pain free."
Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last June. It emerged that Roy passed away in the parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. In a 45 minute phone call before he died, Roy was said to have got out of his truck, but persuaded by Carter to get back inside.
The judge's verdict, when it came through, was blunt:
“She indicated that she can hear him coughing, and she can hear the loud noise of the motor.
"She did not notify his mother, or his sister, even though just several days before that, she had requested their phone numbers from Mr Roy, and obtained them. She called no one. And finally she did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck.
"Ms Carter’s actions, and also her failure to act where she had a duty to Mr Roy, since she had put him into that toxic environment, caused the death of Mr Roy."
Carter's lawyers argued she was unstable while taking psychiatric medication, and wasn't responsible for her actions. After Roy's death, she continued to text his phone, saying "I love you so much" and "You fucking did it and I'm so sorry I didn’t save you."
She has appealed the case, which will be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.