Michelle Carter’s Conviction Upheld For Texts Encouraging Her Boyfriend’s Suicide
Court rules that Michelle Carter will serve 15 months for involuntary manslaughter.
BOSTON, MA — In a unanimous decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Court voted to uphold the 2017 involuntary manslaughter conviction of a woman who texted encouraging messages to her boyfriend as he was in the process of killing himself.
Michelle Carter will now have to serve 15 months for her role in the 2014 suicide of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. Carter was 17 at the time. Roy took his life by sitting inside a truck filled with carbon monoxide in a Fairhaven parking lot.
The teens met in 2012 while on vacation in Florida with their families. They reportedly grew close, largely by way of texting and other electronic communication, as they each struggled with mental-health issues.
Carter had been treated for anorexia. Roy had previously attempted suicide more than once.
During the incident wherein Roy finally succeeded in taking his life, Carter sent him text messages supporting his action. At one point, Roy got out of the truck as it filled with carbon monoxide and texted Carter that he was scared. She texted in response that he should “get back in.”
In a following text, Carter wrote, “No more pushing it off. No more waiting. I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready — just do it, babe.”
In another, Carter texted, “You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.”
When Roy expressed concern for his family, Carter replied, “They won’t be in depression I won’t let that happen. They know how sad you are and they know that you’re doing this to be happy, and I think they will understand and accept it. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way.”
After those communications, Roy got back inside the truck and inhaled the fatal fumes.
The Bristol Juvenile Court convicted Carter of involuntary manslaughter in 2017. The judge stated that Carter caused Roy’s death and that she had willfully neglected her duty to call the police or Roy’s family once she knew he was in the process of harming himself.
The case raised debate about free speech, with Carter’s attorneys arguing that she did not provide Roy with the means or the material to kill himself, and that she should not be convicted for her words alone.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court did not agree. The court upheld the conviction on Wednesday, citing Carter’s action as victimizing a “vulnerable person.”
In their official ruling, the court wrote: “The crime of involuntary manslaughter proscribes reckless or wanton conduct causing the death of another. The statute makes no reference to restricting or regulating speech, let alone speech of a particular content or viewpoint. The evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim’s death by suicide.”
Carter, who is now 22, has been free since the court agreed to review her case. She will now be taken into custody to serve the original 15-month sentence.
In addition, Carter faces a $4.2 million wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Roy’s mother.