Tens of thousands of texts amounting to what prosecutors call months of “wanton and reckless” psychological abuse were presented Friday during the arraignment of a Boston College student accused of prodding her boyfriend to take his own life, then failing to intervene when he did so.
Inyoung You, 21, a native of South Korea, appeared emotionless as prosecutors in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston laid out their case for how she allegedly drove her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, 22, to suicide. You, who is on leave from Boston College, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and failing to act.
During the 18 months that You dated Urtula, who was also a student at the college, prosecutors say their relationship grew increasingly abusive and You would repeatedly text him to “kill himself or go die.”
A grand jury indicted You last month, and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the texts appeared to become “more frequent, powerful and demeaning,” even though You knew Urtula was going through a “spiraling depression.”
Prosecutors have alleged that You exerted control over Urtula, tracking his movements via his cellphone and sending thousands of texts in the run-up to his death.
In the two months before he took his own life on May 20 — the same day he was to graduate from Boston College — Urtula and You exchanged about 75,000 text messages, with more than half coming from her.
At times, You would threaten harm to Urtula, once texting, “I want to bash your head against a wall,” and would also claim she was going to harm herself because of him, prosecutors said.
“I’m going to slit my wrist again,” she wrote, according to prosecutors.
The threats would escalate, they added, when Urtula didn’t respond to her fast enough, asked for space or wanted permission to go to sleep.
The texts, which prosecutors say were uncovered through a forensic extraction of Urtula’s phone, as well as journal entries showed how You allegedly broke down Urtula emotionally.
He texted back to her that “I’ll leave this Earth” and “I’ll go die for you,” prosecutors said.
When Urtula attempted to assert himself and accused You of being the abusive one, prosecutors added that she turned it on him: “Abuse? You think I abuse you? You’re that f—— idiotic.”
When he attempted to cut off contact, prosecutors say she wrote, “F—— answer you f—— worthless piece of s—.”
Urtula would try to stand up for himself. Prosecutors said he was distraught that one of the people he said “I love most in the world” was telling him to take his own life.
“Stop telling me how worthless and pathetic I am and that I deserve to die,” prosecutors said he texted.
Urtula, a biology major originally from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, and a member of the Philippine Society of Boston College, died after authorities say he jumped from the roof of a parking garage less than two hours before he was supposed to walk at commencement.
Prosecutors said You was able to track Urtula to the garage through his cellphone location function that morning, and in a few minutes of her arriving, he jumped.
They allege that she knew he was threatening to harm himself and that “she did not contact law enforcement and medical personnel to intervene and prevent his death.”
During a news conference after her arraignment, You’s defense attorney, Steven Kim, blasted the handling of the case as “unjust and callous behavior by a district attorney in what I can only conclude is a cheap pursuit of headlines.”
The charge against You, Kim added, is traumatizing to her “but also happens not to be true. When the facts come out, it will be clear that these two young individuals were very needy emotionally and were involved in a relationship that became a toxic blend of fear, anger, need and love.”
Kim suggested a jury pool could be tainted because of the intense media attention in the case. He also clarified that You remains a student at Boston College; prosecutors had referred to her as a former student.
The matter has drawn comparisons to another high-profile case in Massachusetts in which a young woman, Michelle Carter, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 after her boyfriend died by suicide.
The case against Carter hinged on text messages in which she appeared to prod her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to “take action.” Both Carter and Roy suffered from depression, attorneys said at the trial.
The judge at You’s arraignment allowed her release on $5,000 bail, an amount arranged with prosecutors because she had voluntarily returned to the U.S. from South Korea to face charges and has no prior criminal record. She must surrender her passport and remain in Massachusetts before pretrial hearings next year.
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