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You’s Lawyer Disputes Portrayal of Case

Lawyers representing Inyoung You, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter after the suicide of her boyfriend Alexander Urtula, BC ’19, will move to dismiss the indictment next week. They announced the plan in a hearing Thursday.

You, who was originally in Boston College’s Class of 2020, has taken a leave of absence from the University for this academic year, according to Steven Kim, one of the lawyers representing You. Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn said that while federal student privacy laws prevent him from discussing the specifics of student cases, You is not currently enrolled in classes at the University. 

You faces the same charges as Michelle Carter, who was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging Conrad Roy III to kill himself through phone calls and text messages. Last year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) upheld her 15-month conviction—from which Carter was released early for good behavior—and the Supreme Court recently denied her appeal, which argued that the sentencing violated her First Amendment right to free speech.

The prosecution’s comparisons between You and Michelle Carter ignore the actions You took upon learning of Urtula’s intent to harm himself on May 20, Kim said in an email to The Heights.

“We intend on filing a motion to dismiss the indictment shortly, because the entire indictment is legally infirm, and as a matter of law, this prosecution cannot be supported by the manslaughter laws in Massachusetts and the recent SJC opinions,” Kim said in the email. “The DA’s office indicted Ms. You, emboldened by and acting under a complete misapprehension of the SJC’s decision affirming the conviction of Michelle Carter.”

Urtula jumped to his death from a parking garage in Roxbury on May 20, hours before he was set to participate in Commencement. His family had traveled from his hometown of Cedar Grove, N.J., to attend the ceremony. You was present at the time of his death, as she Ubered to the parking garage after learning Urtula planned to commit suicide.

In the texts released by her representatives, You questioned Urtula about his whereabouts, as he had stopped sharing his location with her, and whom he was with. Over the course of seven text messages, Urtula then indicated that he was planning on killing himself. You then texted Urtula over 120 times, unanswered, begging him to stop.

In the case of Roy’s suicide, Carter ordered him through a phone call to return his truck as it filled with carbon monoxide after he exited. 

“The facts in Carter that led to the SJC’s opinion are completely the opposite of what happened in the facts surrounding Alex Urtula’s suicide, and this prosecution is a complete radical expansion of the Carter doctrine as well as a complete departure from four centuries of established case law governing homicide,” Kim said in the email.

Rasky Partners, a Boston public relations firm hired by You, provided The Heights with a transcript of text messages exchanged between You and Urtula on the morning of his death. In the released messages, You begged Urtula not to take his own life, and her lawyers have said that the texts show that she tried to intervene in his death.

The texts were originally sealed under a protective motion that prevented the defense from releasing them to the public, but Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine Roach vacated the order on Feb. 4.

Prosecutors have said that You encouraged Urtula to take his own life throughout the course of their 18-month relationship and engaged in a pattern of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. 

At the Oct. 28 press conference announcing the charge, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins cited “hundreds, if not thousands” of the 75,000 text messages the couple exchanged in the two months preceeding Urtula’s death as evidence of You’s abuse—particularly texts in which You told Urtula to “go kill himself” and that she, his family, and the world would be better off without him.

“We continue to focus our attention on the actual victims on this case, Alexander Urtula and his loving family,” Rollins’ office said in an email to The Heights on Friday morning. “Again, we will continue to honor Alexander and his legacy by holding this defendant accountable for her reckless, abusive and relentless criminal behavior.”

An investigation by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Police and Suffolk County prosecutors revealed that You was aware of the spiraling depression and suicidal thoughts her abuse had brought on, Rollins said at the time she announced the charge.

Although You was in her home country of South Korea when the charges were announced, she voluntarily returned to Massachusetts in November and posted bail, which was set at $5,000. As part of her bail conditions, You must stay in the state. 

At the Thursday hearing, Roach denied a motion by You’s lawyers to lift the travel restriction and allow You to move throughout the United States but added that she would revisit the matter if You provided a specific travel request or relocated to a residential address in another state.

Roach also denied the defense’s motion to preserve communications between Urtula and third-party witnesses. Both denials were made without prejudice, meaning You’s lawyers can file them again at a later date.

The defense is expected to file the motion to dismiss on March 6, in which case the state will have until March 20 to respond. The next pre-trial hearing is set for April 9.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact University Counseling Services at 617-552-3310 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

February 24, 2020