Lawyers for the Phoebe Prince bullying defendants have filed a motion seeking all her medical records.
The 15-year-old freshman from Clare, Ireland, hanged herself after repeated bullying at South Hadley High School in January of this year. It later turned out she had a troubled psychiatric past.
The motion for access is not a “fishing expedition” but needed for a strong defense a lawyer for the defendants has argued.
“These records contain information regarding longstanding depression, prior suicide attempts, prescription of anti-depression medications” and more, wrote attorney Alfred P. Chamberland.
The motions were filed on behalf of Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez, both 16, who were charged in connection with bullying Prince before her January 14 suicide.
Colin Keefe, a lawyer representing Velazquez, stated the prosecution “has to show causation. They have to show that my client’s alleged conduct lead Prince to commit suicide, and I think any potential alternative explanations are valid as to why someone would take their own life.’’
In the documents filed yesterday, the lawyers used Grand Jury testimony to show Prince had major mental problems before moving to South Hadley.
“The alleged victim, Phoebe Prince, had a long history of depression and mental health issues, was diagnosed with depression, was prescribed medication for depression, had a history of self-harm, including cutting herself and suicidal ideation, attempted suicide in Ireland prior to moving to the United States, attempted suicide via overdose while residing in the United States, and was psychiatrically hospitalized,’’ Flannery’s lawyers wrote.
Among the testimony given to the Grand Jury is that of codefendant Sean Mulveyhill, who said that Prince told him “she had severe depression.’’
“She told me that she had tried to take her life in Ireland,’’ Mulveyhill told the grand jury. “One of the things I learned about Phoebe is that she had cut [herself] before. I saw some of the scars.’
Prince’s mother, Anne O’Brien, told the Grand Jury that Prince was also bullied in Ireland and was on Prozac in May 2009.
“Phoebe said she couldn’t take the other girls,’’ O’Brien said. “Phoebe told me that at one point she wanted the pain to stop.’’
In November, just two months before her death, O’Brien told the Grand Jury that Prince was in hospital for a week after swallowing a bottle of Seroquel pills used to treat depression and bipolar disorder.
Just eight days before her death O’Brien stated the school nurse at South Hadley High School asked O’Brien to pick up her daughter who was “very upset’’ from the bullying and that “she didn’t feel it was safe to let Phoebe go.’’
Elizabeth Dunphy Farris, the trial prosecutor in the case, stated she had no comment on the defense request .
“As a general matter, the charges pending against the defendants in the juvenile court do not solely relate to the manner of Phoebe Prince’s death, but also focus on her life at school for the three months prior,” Dunphy Farris said.
The motions also claim Prince burned herself with a pot pipe, smoked hash and was given a drug for bipolar disorder.