TAUNTON, Mass. — Conrad Roy III’s online searches in the weeks before taking his life included articles with titles such as “Painless suicide — A complete guide to suicide,” and “Quick, easy ways to commit suicide,” according to a defense witness at his girlfriend’s Massachusetts trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.
The testimony of forensic expert Steven Verronneau on Friday came after Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz rejected a defense motion for a not guilty verdict against Michelle Carter, who prosecutors said cajoled Roy to kill himself in July 2014 by inhaling carbon monoxide in his pickup truck.
Verronneau testified that an examination of one of Roy’s laptops turned up Goggle searches on “suicide by cop” and visits to websites that explained “Ways to kill yourself” and what medications to take “to die while sleeping.”
The searches dated from June 24-July 4, 2014.
Roy’s body was found July 13, 2014, in the parking lot of a Kmart in Fairhaven, nearly 40 miles from his home.
Verronneau, under cross-examination, said Carter could have deleted some cell phone messages she had sent Roy.
The defense witness also acknowledged that he discovered family photos on Roy’s laptops and phones which could be perceived as “positive and happy.”
Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, has sought to portray Roy as a troubled young man who was depressed over the divorce of his parents, long contemplated suicide and experienced physical and emotional abuse.
In fact, court documents include text messages — sent around the time Roy was searching online for ways to kills himself — in which Carter urges Roy to seek medical help for his suicidal thoughts.
Carter: “But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life”
Roy: “It doesn’t help. Trust me”
Carter: “So what are you gonna do then? Keep being all talk and no action and everyday go thru saying how badly you wanna kill yourself? Or are you gonna try to get better?”
On Thursday, the prosecution tried to demonstrate that Carter’s text messages to Roy became increasingly dark in the days preceding his suicide, including talk of the most effective methods and her apparent doubt and frustration about whether he was up to the task.
The final witness revealed a series of disturbing text messages the state claims prove she pushed Roy to take his life.
Text messages extracted from Roy’s phone by state Police Sgt. Michael Bates show the 18-year-old’s mental anguish and desire to kill himself consumed his communications with Carter in summer 2014.
Roy: “I took sleeping pills and just fell asleep”
Carter: “I feel like such an idiot … because you didn’t even do anything. You said you were going to the woods to do it … I poured my heart to you … I thought you really wanted to die, but apparently you don’t … I just feel played and stupid.”
In other text exchanges that summer, Roy said he wished Carter could hold his hand during the suicide; Carter asked Roy to “prove her wrong” about his desire to die and said there were “lots of ways,” including hanging, jumping from a building and stabbing himself.
Trooper: Carter called Roy 14 times the day he died
At the time of the autopsy, Roy’s blood had a carbon monoxide level of 71%, Boston Medical Examiner Dr. Faryl Sandler told the court on Thursday. A normal amount is 1-3%, and 3-5% for smokers. The cause of death was ruled acute carbon monoxide intoxication, the manner suicide.
On the day Roy died, Carter called him 14 times, starting at 4:10 a.m., Massachusetts state trooper Brock Morrissette testified.
At 6:28 p.m., on the night of his suicide, Roy called Carter and spoke with her for about 43 minutes, the trooper testified. Another call, this time from Carter to Roy, was made shortly before 8 p.m. and lasted about 47 minutes.
Carter then called Roy 10 times, from 8:02 p.m. to 8:36 p.m., according to Morrissette. The calls went unanswered.
Prosecutors argue that numerous text messages are overwhelming evidence that while Carter, now 20, played the role of a loving and distraught girlfriend, she had secretly urged Roy to kill himself.
Carter is being tried as a youthful offender because she was a minor when her alleged crime took place. She waived her right to a jury trial, meaning her case will be decided by Moniz, who will render a verdict after testimony is over.
Conrad was a troubled youth who had tried to kill himself in 2012 by overdosing on Tylenol, his mother testified.
But after he began taking medication and went to counseling, he seemed much better, Lynn Roy said. Her son never talked about Carter and she rarely saw them together, she said.
On the day he died, she went to the beach with Conrad and his sisters, Roy testified. He was laughing and making jokes.