Woman is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging boyfriend’s suicide with texts

Criminal Justice



A Massachusetts judge has found a woman guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide and then failing to tell him to stop as he carried out the act in July 2014 when they were both teenagers.

Judge Lawrence Moniz convicted 20-year-old Michelle Carter on Friday for her role in the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, report CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Roy died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup.

Prosecutors had alleged Carter, then 17, encouraged Roy in text messages. At first Carter encouraged Roy to get psychiatric help, but she later changed her advice and told him to “just do it,” according to evidence in the case.

Prosecutors also cited text messages Carter sent on the day of Roy’s death. At one point, he got out of his vehicle, but Carter told him in a text to “get back in the truck.”

Moniz cited that text in his guilty finding, according to the press accounts. “She instructs Roy to get back in the truck knowing of all the feelings he has exchanged with her; his ambiguities, his fears, his concerns,” Moniz said.

“She admits in subsequent texts that she did nothing, she did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family,” Moniz said. “And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ‘Get out of the truck.’”

Moniz said Carter put Roy in a “toxic environment” and had a self-created duty to him. Her actions constituted wanton and reckless conduct and caused the death of Roy, he said.

Massachusetts does not have a law barring assisted suicide, and legal experts who spoke with the New York Times were surprised by the verdict.

“We don’t see this every day,” Loyola University at Los Angeles law professor Laurie Levenson said. ““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.”

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