A Massachusetts judge finds Michelle Carter, who as a teenager sent texts urging her then-boyfriend to commit suicide, guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
SOURCE: NBC News
Michelle Carter has been found guilty of manslaughter in the 2014 death of her boyfriend after she sent him a barrage of text messages encouraging him to kill himself.
The 20-year-old broke down crying as the Massachusetts judge ruled on Friday in Bristol Juvenile Court that she caused the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III.
Carter was 17 when she sent Roy dozens of messages urging him to take his own life. Roy was found dead after intentionally filling his truck with carbon monoxide in Fairhaven, Massachusetts on July 12, 2014.
Judge Lawrence Moniz detailed Carter’s ‘reckless’ conduct in the death of her boyfriend as he read out his lengthy verdict.
He noted that Roy climbed out of the truck as it was filling with toxic gas and told Carter he was scared, but she urged him to get back in.
The judge said Carter’s instructions constituted ‘wanton and reckless conduct’ on her behalf.
He said Carter had a duty to call someone for help when she knew Roy was attempting suicide. Yet she did not call the police or Roy’s family.
‘She did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck,’ the judge said.
Sobs broke out throughout the courtroom when the verdict was announced.
The judge ruled that Carter can remain free on bail until her sentencing on August 3. She could face up to 20 years in prison.
Carter has been prevented from texting and using Facebook or Snapchat ahead of her sentencing. She was also ordered not to have any contact with Roy’s family.
The sensational trial raised questions of whether words can kill and offered a window into teen depression and suicide through text messages and Facebook communications.
Prosecutors had argued during the high-profile trial that a then teenage Carter pressured Roy to take his own life through a torrent of text messages.
‘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.
During the trial, prosecutors said she told Roy to ‘get back in’ his truck when he became frightened while trying to kill himself with carbon monoxide.
Carter’s lawyer argued that Roy had attempted suicide previously and made his own decision to take his life. He also said that she initially tried to talk him out of it.
The judge disagreed on Friday, saying he did not take into account in his verdict Roy’s previous attempts at suicide.
An involuntary manslaughter charge can be brought in Massachusetts when someone causes the death of another person when engaging in reckless or wanton conduct that creates a high degree of likelihood of substantial harm.
Roy’s handwritten suicide note was shown in court on Tuesday as prosecutors delivered their closing arguments. In the note addressed to Carter, Roy had thanked her for her ‘effort and kindness’.
‘I love you and greatly appreciate ur effort and kindness towards me,’ Roy wrote in a handwritten note in a spiral notebook. ‘I’ll forever be in your heart and we will meet up someday in Heaven.’
The court also released Roy’s suicide note to his father, in which he expressed his love and his feelings of inadequacy.
‘I’m sorry I wasn’t the boy you wanted. I can’t take the pain,’ Roy wrote. ‘I did this to finally be happy.’
On Monday, psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin testified for the defense saying that Carter was a ‘very troubled youngster’ who suffered from depression.
At the time of Roy’s death, Carter was taking Celexa, an antidepressant Breggin said targets the brain’s frontal lobe, which controls empathy and decision-making.
Breggin said Roy talked about how he wanted to kill himself with a younger and emotionally troubled Carter. He said Carter eventually endorsed Roy’s wishes.
The psychiatrist said he reviewed all the text messages and Facebook conversations between Carter and Roy. He said that beginning in 2012, Roy told Carter he wanted to kill himself and said there was nothing she could do to stop him.
‘He goes on and on for hours and hours, and pages and pages,’ Breggin said of Roy’s communications with Carter about killing himself at a time when Breggin says Carter is ‘a little girl’ overwhelmed by her boyfriend’s unceasing focus on suicide.
Prosecutors focused on a series of text messages Carter sent Roy in the days before he killed himself.
‘You can’t think about it. 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.
Carter and Roy met in Florida in 2012 while visiting relatives. Their relationship largely consisted of text messages and emails.
‘IT’S NOW OR NEVER’: MICHELLE CARTER’S TEXT MESSAGES TO CONRAD ROY
Here are a series of texts between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy that were shown to the court. They appear here chronologically:
June 19, 2014:
Carter: ‘But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life’
Carter: ‘Part of me wants you to try something and fail just so you can go get help’
Roy: ‘It doesn’t help. Trust me’
Carter: ‘So what are you gonna do then? Keep being all talk and no action and everyday go thru saying how badly you wanna kill yourself? Or are you gonna try to get better?’
Roy: ‘I can’t get better I already made my decision.’
June 23, 2014:
Carter: ‘How do you want to harm yourself’
Roy: ‘Something idkk yet’
Carter: ‘Please don’t’
Roy: ‘I hate myself I’ll always hate myself, I’m never gonna view myself as good I’m so far behind’
Carter: ‘What is harming yourself gonna do!? Nothing! It will make it worse!’
Roy: ‘Make the pain go away like you said’
Carter: ‘It will make the pain go away temporarily, but when you’re done, you’ll just regret it and feel even worse!’
July 7, 2014:
Roy: ‘If you were in my position. honestly what would you do’
Carter: ‘I would get help. That’s just me tho. When I have a serious problem like that my first instinct is to get help because I know I can’t do it on my own’
Later that day, they talk about how he could make carbon monoxide (CO) in order to suffocate to death
Carter: ‘Well there’s more ways to make CO. Google ways to make it. . . ‘
Roy: ‘portable generator that’s it’
July 8, 2014:
Carter: ‘So are you sure you don’t wanna [kill yourself] tonight?’
Roy: ‘What do you mean am I sure?’
Carter: ‘Like, are you definitely not doing it tonight?’
Roy: ‘Idk yet I’ll let you know’
Carter: ‘Because I’ll stay up with you if you wanna do it tonight’
Roy: ‘Another day wouldn’t hurt’
Carter: ‘You can’t keep pushing it off, tho, that’s all you keep doing’
July 11, 2014:
After Roy suggests putting a generator in the truck to make CO rather than a water pump:
Carter: ‘…Well in my opinion, I think u should do the generator because I don’t know much about the pump and with a generator u can’t fail’
July 4-12, 2014:
The following was sent over a nine-day span. The *** symbols show a gap in communications between the two.
Carter: ‘You’re gonna have to prove me wrong because I just don’t think you really want this. You just keeps pushing it off to another night and say you’ll do it but you never do’
Carter: ‘SEE THAT’S WHAT I MEAN. YOU KEEP PUSHING IT OFF! You just said you were gonna do it tonight and now you’re saying eventually…’
Carter: ‘But I bet you’re gonna be like ‘oh, it didn’t work because I didn’t tape the tube right or something like that’ . . . I bet you’re gonna say an excuse like that’
Carter: ‘Do you have the generator?’
Roy: ‘not yet lol’
Carter: ‘WELL WHEN ARE YOU GETTING IT’
Carter: ‘You better not be bulls***ing me and saying you’re gonna do this and then purposely get caught’
July 11-12, 2014:
Again, *** shows a gap in communications
Roy: ‘I’m just to sensitive. I want my family to know there was nothing they could do. I am entrapped in my own thoughts’
Roy: ‘like no I would be happy if they had no guilt about it. because I have a bad feeling tht this is going to create a lot of depression between my parents/sisters’
Roy: ‘i’m overthinking everything. . f**k. I gotta stop and just do it’
Carter: ‘I think your parents know you’re in a really bad place. Im not saying they want you to do it, but I honestly feel like they can accept it. They know there’s nothing they can do, they’ve tried helping, everyone’s tried. But there’s a point that comes where there isn’t anything anyone can do to save you, not even yourself, and you’ve hit that point and I think your parents know you’ve hit that point. You said you’re mom saw a suicide thing on your computer and she didn’t say anything. I think she knows it’s on your mind and she’s prepared for it’
Carter: ‘Everyone will be sad for a while, but they will get over it and move on. 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. They’ll always carry u in their hearts’
Roy: ‘i don’t want anyone hurt in the process though’
Roy: ‘I meant when they open the door, all the carbon monoxide is gonna come out they can’t see it or smell it. whoever opens the door’
Carter: ‘They will see the generator and know that you died of CO. . . .’
Roy: ‘hey can you do me a favor’
Carter: ‘Yes of course’
Roy: ‘just be there for my family :)’
Carter: ‘Conrad, of course I will be there for your family. I will help them as much as I can to get thru this, ill tell them about how amazing their son/brother truly was’
Roy: ‘Idk I’m freaking out again’
Roy: I’m overthinking’
Carter: ‘I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did last time and not think about it and just do it babe. You can’t keep doing this every day’
Roy: ‘I do want to. but like I’m freaking for my family. I guess’
Carter: ‘Conrad. I told you I’ll take care of them. Everyone will take care of them to make sure they won’t be alone and people will help them get thru it. We talked about this, they will be okay and accept it. People who commit suicide don’t think this much and they just do it’
July 12, 2014:
In these exchanges on the day before his body was found, Roy expresses more hesitation about his plan.
Carter: ‘So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing’
Carter: ‘I’m just confused like you were so ready and determined’
Roy: ‘I am gonna eventually’
Roy: ‘I really don’t know what I’m waiting for. . but I have everything lined up’
Carter: ‘No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don’t take action’
Carter: ‘You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it’
Carter: ‘Do u wanna do it now?’
Roy: ‘Is it too late?’
Roy: ‘Idkk it’s already light outside’
Roy: I’m gonna go back to sleep, love you I’ll text you tomorrow’
Carter: ‘No? Its probably the best time now because everyone’s sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck. And no one’s really out right now because it’s an awkward time’
Carter: ‘If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it’
Carter: ‘And u can say you’ll do it tomorrow but you probably won’t’
Carter: ‘You just need to do it Conrad or I’m gonna get you help’
Carter: ‘You can’t keep doing this everyday’
Roy: ‘Okay I’m gonna do it today’
Carter: ‘Do you promise’
Roy: ‘I promise babe’
Roy: ‘I have to now’
Carter: ‘Like right now?’
Roy: ‘where do I go? :(‘
Carter: ‘And u can’t break a promise. And just go in a quiet parking lot or something.’
SOURCE: DailyMail – Emily Crane