Michelle Carter has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for texting her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, that he should commit suicide when she was 17.
After a lengthy trial, Michelle Carter, 20, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a Massachusetts court after sending boyfriend Conrad Roy, 18, dozens of texts urging him to kill himself in 2014. Michelle was 17 years old when the incident occurred. According to their hours-long text conversations and phone calls, Conrad was reluctant to commit suicide, but Michelle continuously pressured him to go through with it. Conrad died after filling his car with carbon monoxide in a Kmart parking lot near their homes in Massachusetts. There is no law in the books in Massachusetts about encouraging someone to commit suicide, and during the trial Michelle’s lawyers said that prosecutors were stretching the definition of “involuntary manslaughter” in trying to convict Michelle.
Nevertheless, she was convicted of the crime for sending the texts and making phone calls to her young boyfriend as he took his own life. Michelle waived the right to trial by jury, so Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz decided her fate. Moniz determined that while Conrad took “significant actions of his own to end his life,” Michelle ordering him over the phone to get back into his carbon monoxide-filled truck “constituted wanton and reckless conduct.” Michelle didn’t call anyone for help, or tell him to leave the truck, the judge said. Michelle, her family, and Conrad’s family all sobbed as the Moniz read the verdict, according to NYT reporters present in court. She’s expected to be sentenced on August 3, and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that Michelle’s conviction is unlikely to set a legal precedent in Massachusetts, but it could have a social impact. “On the broader societal spectrum, I think it sends a message that behavior that we sometimes attribute to odd teenage behavior can actually be so extreme that it’s homicide,” she told NYT. “What used to be seen as just a tragedy. is now going to be classified, perhaps, as a crime.”
Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn argued in the trial that allow Michelle wasn’t physically present when Conrad killed himself, her conviction is still warranted. “People fall in love on the internet and via text, people bully via text and the internet, and you can encourage someone to die via text,” she told the court. “Ms. Carter was not in the parking lot with Mr. Roy [but] she was in his ear, she was in his mind, she was on the phone, and she was telling him to get back in the car even though she knew he was going to die.”
The texts Michelle sent her boyfriend over the course of this horrific ordeal are truly appalling. “You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you [will] be free and happy. No more pushing it off, no more waiting,” he texted him. “You just need to do it Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you”; “If you want it as bad as you say you do, its [sic] time to do it today.”
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