‘A callow young woman is held responsible for encouraging a healthy young man to take his life.
ACLU responds with: “There is no law in Massachusetts making it a crime to encourage someone, or even to persuade someone, to commit suicide.”
The conviction “could chill important and worthwhile end-of-life discussions” between loved ones?‘
Michelle Carter found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her boyfriend by Taunton District Court, Friday
Carter, 20, was convicted in a non-jury trial for sending boyfriend, Conrad Roy, text messages encouraging him to kill himself
Sobs broke out and a shaken Michelle Carter listened to Judge Lawrence Moniz’s decision in Bristol Juvenile Court.
Carter could face up to 20 years in prison in the 2014 suicide of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. Roy was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup truck.
The judge ruled that Carter, now 20, can remain free on bail but ordered her not to make any contact with Roy’s family and can’t leave the state.
Carter had texted Roy to “get back in” his truck as it filled with carbon monoxide during the suicide attempt. In other messages, she said to a friend that Roy’s death “is my fault.”
“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.
A psychiatrist testified Monday that Carter was a “very troubled youngster” who took antidepressants that made her “involuntarily intoxicated” when she told Roy to take his own life.
Michelle Carter [center], and her attorneys in court during the trial
Prosecutors alleged that the then-17-year-old Carter harassed Roy to act on his suicidal thoughts. Carter’s lawyer argues that Roy had a history of depression and suicide attempts and was determined to take his own life.
The verdict, handed down by a judge in a non-jury trial, was a precedent setting legal finding that, essentially, a person’s words alone can directly cause someone else’s suicide.
Carter who was 17 at the time of the alleged crime, had waived her rights to a jury trial and appeared in Taunton District Court in Taunton, Mass.
Judge Lawrence Moniz ruled that her conduct toward Conrad Roy III was not only immoral but illegal.
She faces up to 20 years in prison.
Court documents said on July 12, 2014 the defendant encouraged Roy, whom she called her boyfriend, to kill himself.
While she was miles away on the day, he drove alone to a Kmart parking lot and hooked up a water pump that emitted carbon monoxide into the cab of his truck. When he became sick from the fumes and stepped out, prosecutors said, Ms. Carter ordered him by phone to “get back in.” He was found dead the next day.
Knowing that Mr. Roy was in his truck and in a toxic environment, the judge said, Ms. Carter took no action.
“She admits in subsequent texts that she did nothing, she did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family,” Judge Moniz said. “And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ‘Get out of the truck.’”
As a result, he said, her actions and her failure to act constituted wanton and reckless conduct. Asking Ms. Carter, who was sobbing, to stand, the judge concluded: “This court, having reviewed the evidence, finds you guilty on the indictment with involuntary manslaughter.”
The ACLU of Massachusetts criticized the verdict.
“Mr. Roy’s death is a terrible tragedy, but it is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution,” legal director Matthew Segal said in a statement.
“There is no law in Massachusetts making it a crime to encourage someone, or even to persuade someone, to commit suicide.”
Segal said that the conviction “could chill important and worthwhile end-of-life discussions” between loved ones.