20-year-old Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a judge deemed her behavior as “reckless” enough to drive her former boyfriend to commit suicide.
In 2014, Conrad Roy III killed himself by locking himself in his truck with a portable generator. The prosecutor claimed that Carter “used Conrad as a pawn in a sick game of life and death for attention,” as confirmed by several of Carter’s classmates who testified against her.
In the trial, held in Taunton District Court in Taunton, Massachusetts, prosecutors revealed that Carter had talked extensively with Roy, sending and receiving around 20,000 text messages, of which 1,000 took place in the days just before his death.
A landmark case in supporting suicide and virtual presence
Apparently, Carter first tried to prevent Roy from killing himself. At some point, Carter revealed to a classmate through a text message that she “started giving up” because she felt like nothing was working. Instead, she then decided to tell Roy to stop “over thinking it” and just do it.
The defense argues that Roy had been intending on taking his life for years and that Carter tried to dissuade Roy. On the other hand, prosecutors exposed how Carter let Roy know that his family would “understand why he did it,” and reassured him in telling him that he was probably going to succeed at his attempt. She also researched on the subject and sent Roy some screenshots about carbon monoxide poisoning and of a portable generator.
At some point, Roy got scared and got out of the car, after which Carter ordered him to get back in the truck.
“You are ready and prepared, all you have to do is turn on the generator, and you will be free and happy,” she texted Roy.
Conrad Roy was found dead in a Fairhaven Kmart parking lot on July 13. In his hand, he held the phone that kept him in touch with Carter.
Carter maintained her innocence during the trial following the advice of the defense, but due to the overwhelming and reliable evidence, it was clear that Carter played a significant role in Roy’s suicide, and that she could have prevented it if she had wanted to. Carter did not contact police or Roy’s family to let them know that he was in the truck.
The case will serve as a landmark in future cases concerning suggestive text messaging even if Carter had not been guilty. Attorneys suggest that lawmakers will now look into writing laws concerning encouraging others to commit suicide.
“This will certainly make people realize that what they text and say online will have legal consequences. This has been an eye-opener to people about their responsibilities,” stated Tom Merrigan, former District Court judge from Massachusetts.
Carter could face up to 20 years in prison. Despite being 17 at the time of the crime, she was charged as an adult. The sentence will be set on August 3, although she remains free on bail and was forbidden from making any contact with the Roy family.
Source: ABC News