A Massachusetts woman was found guilty on Friday of involuntary manslaughter in connection with charges that she encouraged her teenage boyfriend to kill himself.
Michelle Carter, now 20, faces up to 20 years in prison when she’s sentenced on August 3. In July 2014, Carter’s boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, sat in his black Ford F-250 in a Kmart parking lot and killed himself by inhaling carbon monoxide.
The defendant became visibly emotional as the verdict was being read.
After Roy committed suicide, Carter texted a friend, writing: “[If the police] read my messages with him I’m done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail.” Carter, who was 30 miles away from the scene of her boyfriend’s suicide, texted Roy several messages before he ended his life, including “It’s Now Or Never” and “When are you going to do it?”
The judge said that when Carter sent Roy a message telling him to go back into the car, she became responsible because she knew that he was going back to “a toxic environment inconsistent with human life.” The judge also noted that Carter did not contact her boyfriend’s family to stop him — even though she knew what he was planning.
The victim’s father, Conrad Roy, Jr., said his family is happy with the verdict and thankful for the judge and prosecution team.
But Carter’s defense attorney Joseph Cataldo said Roy had multiple suicide attempts in the past, and a forensic investigator testified that the young man had researched “suicide by cop,” and which medications he could use to die while sleeping.
Cataldo mentioned that his client was taking Celexa, a treatment for depression, at the time of Roy’s death. The defense claimed that Carter’s switch to this medication led to a transformation in her frame of mind that led her to believe that was helping Roy by assisting in his suicide.
Matthew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, released a statement condemning the verdict, saying that it “exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions.”
Main photo: Michelle Carter in court [NBC News (screenshot)]