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The case of Michelle Carter was new territory for prosecutors and defense attorneys who had never before dealt with the complexities of her situation. Carter, who was 17 years old at the time of her suspected crime, had been accused of manslaughter for encouraging the suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Henri Roy III, over text messages. The situation was unexplored as far as legal precedent goes, and ultimately led to Carter being sent behind the bars.
A new HBO documentary "I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs Michelle Carter" chronicles the bizarre and tragic story, bringing Carter back into the national spotlight. So what became of Carter following the trial, and where is she now?
Conrad Roy's Death
Roy died by way of carbon monoxide poisoning in a parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts on July 13, 2014. Roy had been extensively communicating with Carter before taking his life, regularly discussing his desire to kill himself, a desire Carter started voraciously encouraging in the days before his death.
The two had met on vacation in Florida with their families and had texted regularly since. Carter considered him her boyfriend (although Roy seemed less enthusiastic about labeling things in his messages to her). Roy had struggled with and received treatment for anxiety and depression — he had previously attempted suicide. Cater, too, struggled with mental health issues: she had an eating disorder and said she had begun self harming.
What was discovered upon investigation of the death was what the New York Times described as "scores of texts encouraging him to kill himself." Carter was additionally accused of speaking with Roy over the phone shortly before he passed, instructing him to get back in his poison-filled truck.
"[H]is death is my fault, like honestly I could have stopped him,” Carter wrote in a text to a friend, according to The New York Times. “I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I [expletive] told him to get back in.”
He apparently listened.
Michelle Carter's Trial
Carter was indicted on February 4, 2015, according to The Boston Globe. The following day, she was arraigned at the New Bedford Juvenile Court on charges of involuntary manslaughter in Taunton, Massachusetts. At the time, she was classified as a "youthful offender" rather than a juvenile, meaning she could be tried as an adult.
The unique situation of Carter's predicament was described by CNN as having the potential to "set legal precedent for whether it's a crime to tell someone to commit suicide."
After a tumultuous trial, Carter was sentenced to two and a half years time on August 3, 2017. She had potentially faced up to 20 years in prison for her crime.
What Happened To Michelle Carter Then?
Judge Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court explained the logic of the sentencing that day.
“This court must and has considered a balancing between rehabilitation, the promise that that rehabilitation would work and a punishment for the actions that have occurred,” Moniz said, according to The Times.
Joseph P. Cataldo, Carter's lawyer, immediately announced that he would appeal the decision.
“This is a tragedy,” Cataldo said, according to The Times. “It is not, however, a crime. Conrad Roy took his own life.”
Meanwhile, Maryclare Flynn, the prosecutor, expressed disappointment in the judge's leniency.
“Her actions killed Conrad Roy,” Flynn said, emphasizing Carter's lack of remorse, according to The Times. “She ended his life to better her own.”
Some legal experts supported the judge's decision.
“It recognizes this is an aberrant crime, a juvenile crime, a crime of social media, of the internet, and of the unique dramas of teenage boys and girls,” Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge and a professor at Harvard Law School, told The Times. “It deserves punishment, but you have to put it in context.”
Carter's lawyers pushed for a stay of sentence while the appeals process played out, according to The Boston Globe. The stay was granted on the condition that Carter stay away from Roy's family. However, ultimately, the Massachusetts State Court affirmed the judge's original decision on February 6, 2019, according to WCVB of Boston, Massachusetts. Days later, she was ordered to begin serving her sentence.
Carter showed no signs of distress as she was taken into police custody, according to The Associated Press.
As of July 8, 2019, Carter's lawyers are petitioning to have the Supreme Court vacate Carter's conviction on the grounds that her speech was protected by the First Amendment, according to The Washington Post.
Carter is currently being held at the Bristol County House of Correction adult facility.
With the documentary, "I Love You, Now Die" airing on HBO on July 9 and 10, Carter will face a new barrage of scrutiny as the case is revisited and broken down yet again.
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