A woman who sent her boyfriend text messages urging him to commit suicide was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter in a trial that raised questions of whether words can kill.
Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz found that Michelle Carter caused the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, who intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide in July 2014.
Impact Of Carter On Roy
Carter was 17 when she sent Roy messages urging him to take his own life. “I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it!” Carter wrote in one message.
The judge noted that Roy climbed out of the truck as it was filling with toxic gas and told Carter he was scared, and Carter response was: “Get back in”
“This court finds that instructing Mr. Roy to ‘get back in’ the truck constitutes wanton and reckless conduct by Ms. Carter,” the judge said. He added that Carter had to call someone for help when she knew Roy was attempting suicide.
However, she did not call anyone, she did not even issue a simple instruction such as ‘Get out of the truck’ at trial, the focus was on a series of text messages Carter sent Roy in the days before he killed himself.
“You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t,” Carter wrote to Roy the day of his suicide.
The judge ruled that Carter can remain free on bail but ordered her not to make any contact with Roy’s family or leave the state.
A sentencing hearing was scheduled for August 3. Carter’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, argued Roy had a history of depression and suicide attempts.
He said Carter first tried to talk Roy out of it and asked him to get professional help, but eventually went along.
The judge said he did not take into account Roy’s previous attempts at suicide. Roy’s father was pleased with the conviction, he said: “This has been a very tough time for our family, and we’d like to just process this verdict that we are happy with.”
The conviction was denounced by the American Civil Liberties Union as it exceeds the limits of criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed U.S. Constitutions, stating that his suicide is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws.