The involuntary manslaughter conviction of a young woman who encouraged her boyfriend through dozens of text messages to kill himself was upheld Wednesday by Massachusetts' highest court.
The state's Supreme Judicial Court agreed with a lower court judge who found that Michelle Carter caused Conrad Roy III's death when she told him to "get back in" his truck that was filling with toxic gas after he told her he was scared. The judge said Carter had a duty to call the police or Roy's family when she knew he was killing himself.
"And then after she convinced him to get back into the carbon monoxide filled truck, she did absolutely nothing to help him: she did not call for help or tell him to get out of the truck as she listened to him choke and die," Justice Scott Kafker wrote in the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling.
However, her lawyers say they will continue to examine all legal options, including a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Carter was originally convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 15 months in prison. She has remained free while she pursues the appeals.
Carter's lawyers noted the only evidence she instructed Roy to get back in the truck was a long, rambling text she sent to a friend two months later in which she called Roy's death her fault.
Carter was 17 when Roy, 18, was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in July 2014.
Last year, her defense team wrote in their application for the appeal: "Carter is the first defendant to have been convicted of killing a person who took his own life, even though she neither provided the fatal means nor was present when the suicide occurred. Nothing in Massachusetts law made clear to 17-year-old Carter, or anyone else, that such circumstances could constitute involuntary manslaughter."
Prosecutors had argued Carter could have stopped Roy from killing himself, but instead bullied him into going through with his plan through text messages that became more insistent as he delayed.
"I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you're ready — just do it babe," she wrote.
"You're finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It's okay to be scared and it's normal. I mean, you're about to die," Carter wrote in another.
Crater’s appeal questions if the evidence presented at her trial actually proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Carter was liable for failing to stop her boyfriend from ending his life, The Boston Globe reported. Carter's lawyers argued she can't be convicted because of her words alone. Her attorney also told the court there was no evidence it would have made a difference if she had called for help, saying she didn't even know where his truck was parked.
"We can all see from the text messages that Michelle Carter did not force Conrad Roy to kill himself," Attorney Daniel Marx told the court in October.
Carter and Roy lived in Massachusetts but met in Florida in 2012 while both on vacation with their families. Their relationship consisted mainly of texting and other electronic communications. Both teens struggled with depression.
A psychiatrist who testified for the defense during Carter’s trial said that Roy wasn’t the only one in their relationship who was troubled. He claimed Carter genuinely thought she was helping Roy by encouraging him to end his life. She was on medication for her own issues at the time and suffered suicidal thoughts, the psychiatrist testified. The prosecution accused Carter of wanting the sympathy and attention that came with being the "grieving girlfriend." They stated that texts to friends demonstrated that she wanted to become famous for her boyfriend’s suicide.
Carter had also been treated for anorexia, and Roy had made earlier suicide attempts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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