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Inyoung You’s Case to Proceed to Trial

Inyoung You, the former Boston College student indicted with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the suicide of her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, BC ’19, will face trial after the court denied in part her motion to dismiss the charges against her, according to a statement from the Suffolk Country District Attorney’s office on Friday. 

“The legal process is long and complicated, particularly with the delays caused by the Global pandemic and the journey to a place where healing can begin is grueling,’’ Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. “We intend to be there every step of the way.”

The prosecution argued two theories of manslaughter—manslaughter by commission, that You’s words could have caused Urtula to kill himself, and manslaughter by ommision, that You’s failure to summon help caused Urtula’s suicide, the statement reads. Superior Court Judge Christine Roach granted You’s motion to dismiss the latter charge, but denied her motion to dismiss the former, pushing the case to trial. 

In May of 2019, Urtula jumped to his death from a parking garage in Roxbury, Mass. hours before he was to graduate. You took an Uber to the garage after tracking Urtula’s location and learning of his plans to commit suicide, and she was present at the time of his death.

Rollins said in a press conference in October of that year that You had engaged in a pattern of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse throughout her 18-month relationship with Urtula, and that the abuse worsened in the days and hours leading up to his death. 

Many of the text messages that the couple exchanged in the months preceding Urtula’s death were evidence of You’s abuse, Rollins said, including messages in which You told Urtula to “go kill himself” and that she, his family, and the world would be better off without him. 

“We have a barrage of a complete and utter attack on this man’s very will and conscience and psyche by an individual—to the tune of 47,000 text messages in the two months leading up—and an awareness, we would argue, of his frail state at that point,” Rollins said. 

Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn told The Heights in 2019  that You, formerly MCAS ’20, withdrew from classes in August of that year. You took a leave of absence for the 2019-2020 academic year, according to Steven Kim, one of You’s lawyers. 

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

Kim said in an email to The Heights in February of last year that comparisons between the two cases ignore the actions You took upon learning of Urtula’s intent to harm himself on the day he died.

According to the text messages released by her representatives, You texted Urtula over 120 times on the day of his death, and begged him not to kill himself. 

On the day of Roy’s death, Carter ordered Roy over the phone back into a truck that was filling with carbon monoxide. 

“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 a 2020 email to The Heights

Senior Associate Director of University Communications Ed Hayward and Steven Kim were not immediately available for comment.

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.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Urtula Family via Suffolk DA’s office

January 17, 2021