Not guilty plea for woman charged in boyfriend’s sui­cide

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Philip Marcelo

BOS­TON — A former Bos­ton Col­lege stu­dent has pleaded not guilty in her first court ap­pear­ance on charges that she en­cour­aged her boyfriend to take his own life in what pros­e­cu­tors de­scribed as a toxic and abu­sive re­la­tion­ship.

Iny­oung You, 21, pleaded not guilty to in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter in Suf­folk County Su­pe­rior Court in Bos­ton af­ter pros­e­cu­tors say she vol­un­tar­ily re­turned to the U.S. from South Korea, where she has been at least since the charges were an­nounced in Oc­to­ber.

You didn’t speak dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings Fri­day. She was taken into cus­tody in hand­cuffs af­ter the judge set her bail at $5,000. She posted bail soon af­ter­ward and was re­leased.

You, who was born in South Korea and is a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen, was also or­dered to sur­ren­der her pass­port and re­main in Mas­sachusetts. Her next court date is in Jan­uary, and her case won’t go to trial un­til Novem­ber 2020.

Pros­e­cu­tors say You and Alexan­der Ur­tula, 22, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, ex­changed more than 75,000 texts in the last two months of their tur­bu­lent, 18-month re­la­tion­ship, with You send­ing the ma­jor­ity of them.

They say You iso­lated Ur­tula from his friends, urged him mul­ti­ple times to “go kill your­self ” and called him “worth­less” in a con­stant bar­rage of mes­sages.

Ur­tula died in Bos­ton on May 20, just min­utes be­fore his Bos­ton Col­lege grad­u­a­tion.

Dur­ing You’s ar­raign­ment, as­sis­tant pros­e­cu­tor Caitlin Grasso said the two Bos­ton Col­lege stu­dents had met through the univer­sity’s Filipino stu­dent so­ci­ety.

But You, she said, be­came up­set af­ter learn­ing Ur­tula was still com­mu­ni­cat­ing with an ex-girl­friend.

Grasso read from some of the thou­sands mes­sages You sent to Ur­tula, many laden with ex­ple­tives and sent in one-word bursts and cap­i­tal let­ters.

She also de­tailed how You, who with­drew from the univer­sity over the sum­mer, forced Ur­tula to block his friends on so­cial me­dia and reg­u­larly mon­i­tored his lo­ca­tion through his smart­phone’s GPS.

“The de­fen­dant be­came phys­i­cally, ver­bally, and psy­cho­log­i­cally abu­sive,” Grasso said.

Ur­tula had no men­tal health prob­lems prior to the re­la­tion­ship, Grasso said, but in the months be­fore his death had writ­ten in his jour­nal that You “at­tacks my self-worth.”

He also said he feared leav­ing her be­cause she threat­ened to harm her­self and blame him for it, Grasso said.

“Th­ese text mes­sages demon­strate the power dy­namic of the re­la­tion­ship,” she said. The cou­ple dis­cussed “how the de­fen­dant owned Ur­tula, how he was her slave, and how Mr. Ur­tula ceded his au­ton­omy to the de­fen­dant,” Grasso said.

You knew nearly an hour be­fore Ur­tula’s death ex­actly where he was and didn’t call po­lice or seek help, Grasso said.

A full ac­count­ing of the cou­ple’s more than 75,000 texts hasn’t been re­leased, but You, through a public re­la­tions firm, re­leased mes­sages last week that sug­gest she tried to stop Ur­tula and was in con­tact with his brother in the mo­ments be­fore his death.

“please baby i’m al­most there please,” she wrote. “please don’t push me away PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME PLEASE.”

Ur­tula re­sponds at one point: “this is good­bye for­ever. I love you. This isn’t your fault it’s mine.”

Af­ter Fri­day’s pro­ceed­ings, You’s lawyer Steve Kim dis­missed the case as a “cheap pur­suit of head­lines” that has wrongly por­trayed his client as a “mon­ster.”

You and Ur­tula were “emo­tion­ally needy young adults” who both con­trib­uted to turn­ing their re­la­tion­ship into a “toxic blend of need, anger, fear and love,” he said.

The case grimly echoes that of Michelle Carter, who gar­nered head­lines and an HBO film.

The young Mas­sachusetts woman was sen­tenced to 15 months in jail af­ter she was con­victed in 2017 of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter for us­ing text mes­sages and phone calls to en­cour­age her boyfriend, Con­rad Roy, to kill him­self in 2014.

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