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Plainville Teen Waives Right To Jury Trial In Texting Suicide Case

PLAINVILLE (CBS) -- A Plainville teen accused of encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself has waived her right to a jury trial.

Michelle Carter took the stand Monday morning before jurors were set to be picked and made the request, which Judge Lawrence Moniz accepted, according to the Bristol County District Attorney's office.

Carter is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge. Her decision means members of the community won't decide her guilt or innocence; Judge Moniz will now act as jury.

Prosecutors say then-17-year-old Carter sent dozens of text messages to Conrad Roy in 2014 encouraging him to commit suicide.

michelle carter
Michelle Carter in Bristol County Juvenile Court in Taunton, June 5, 2017. (WBZ-TV)

Patrick Donovan, a criminal defense attorney in Quincy, called the decision to waive a jury trial a "gutsy move."

"I can tell you deciding whether or not to advise your client to go bench trial or jury trial is one of the hardest decisions you have to make as a criminal defense attorney," Donovan told WBZ. "Personally, it's a question that keeps you up at night."

Donovan said a judge is less likely to be influenced by some of the appalling details of the case, a reason Carter might have opted against a jury trial.

"A case like this could be so emotional that the emotions take over and it clouds the ruling of law," he explained.

Judge Lawrence Moniz
Judge Lawrence Moniz. (WBZ-TV)

In July, 2014, Roy was found dead in his pickup truck from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to police.

Prosecutors say Carter was on the phone with Roy for about 45 minutes while he inhaled carbon monoxide, but did not call 911.

They also say she texted a friend that she told Roy to get back into his truck when he became afraid.

Conrad Roy
Conrad Roy. (Photo credit: Janice Roy)


Carter's lawyer has argued those texts are protected free speech and said last December that a 20,000-page file of Roy's social media use will be entered into evidence to help shed light on Roy's state of mind in the time leading up to his death.

The trial is set to begin with opening statements Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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