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Text Messages to Encourage Boyfriend's Suicide Used to Convict Teen of Involuntary Manslaughter

Michelle Carter was recently found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 suicide death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. The evidence relied upon by prosecutors was primarily text messages that Carter sent to Roy encouraging him to commit suicide.

In Massachusetts, there are no laws criminalizing assisted suicide. For that reason, prosecutors prosecuted Carter for involuntary manslaughter for the unintentional killing of Roy by "an act that constitutes such a disregard of the probable harmful consequences to another as to be wanton or reckless."

In support of the involuntary manslaughter charge, the prosecution presented the texts between Carter and Roy from July 12, 2014, the day before Roy's body was found, including the following selected texts:

Carter: "So I guess you aren't gonna do it then, all that for nothing.... I'm just confused, like you were so ready and determined"

Roy: "I am going to eventually... I really don't know what I am waiting for but I have everything lined up"

Carter: "No, you're not, Conrad. Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you'll do it but u never do. It's always gonna be that way if u don't take action"

Carter: "You're just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it"

Carter: "Do u want to do it now?"

Roy: "Is it too late?"

Roy: "Idkk it's already light out"

Roy: "I'm gonna go back to sleep, love you I'll text you tomorrow"

Carter: "No? It's probably the best time now because everyone's sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck. And no one's really out right now because it's an awkward time"

Carter: "If u don't do it now you're never gonna do it"

After a pause in the conversation:

Carter: "You just need to do it Conrad or I'm not going to help"

Carter: "You can't keep doing this everyday"

Roy: "Okay I'm gonna do it today"

Carter: "Do you promise"

Roy: I promise babe"

Roy: "I have to now"

Carter: "Like right now?"

Roy: "where do I go? :("

Carter: "And u can't break a promise. And just go in a quiet parking lot or something."

In reaching its verdict, the Judge acknowledged that Carter was not with Roy, that she did not research and set up his suicide, and that her texting alone did not cause Roy to initiate his own death. But the Judge took note that after Roy began his suicide, he "broke the chain of self-causation" by exiting his vehicle as it was filling with carbon monoxide and only returned to the truck and ended his life after receiving Carter's final text instructing Roy to "get back in" the truck.

The Judge found that Carter's instruction to Roy to get back in the truck constituted wanton and reckless conduct by Carter creating a situation where there was a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to Roy.

Carter was tried as a juvenile because she was 17 years old at the time of Roy's death. Carter had the right to a jury trial, but elected to try her case to the Judge. After finding Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the Judge scheduled Carter's sentencing for August 2017. Carter now faces up to 20 years in prison.

The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers handle cases involving intentional and unintentional killings. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, set up your free consultation today by calling 513-932-2115. 

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