Friday morning, a Massachusetts judge found 20 year old Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter for her role in her boyfriend’s 2014 suicide, The Washington Post reports.
Judge Lawrence Moniz decided that Carter’s supportive texts to late boyfriend Conrad Roy III played a pivotal role in his decision to take his own life back in July of 2014.
This landmark case addressed legal precedents previously uncontemplated: if one is not physically present at the time of a death, can they still be held responsible? Also, can someone be charged with manslaughter purely based off of the content of text messages?
The judge ruled in the affirmative on both questions.
Conrad Roy III was found dead due to carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup truck outside a Boston K-Mart. He employed a gas powered water pump in order to inhale the toxic gas. Later reports surfaced containing the disturbing correspondence between the late Roy and girlfriend Michelle Carter, which raised scrutiny as to her role in his death.
Carter not only failed to condemn his suicidal sentiments, she encouraged them.
One Carter text read, “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.”
The graphic and bizarre nature of the case gave her subsequent indictment national attention.
— Tiffany Russell (@Tiffy_Russell) June 7, 2017
— Tasneem N (@TasneemN) June 9, 2017
If #michellecarter is found guilty, I’m embarrassed for our profession. She’s a terrible person, but not a criminal.
— 1Law Review (@1LawReview) June 14, 2017
When Roy began to second guess taking his own life, Carter vehemently rebuked his doubts.
Another text stated, “Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don’t take action,” Carter replied. “You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it.”
Further texts included Carter saying, “If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it.”
Carter interestingly did not have a similar attitude for her own life. In one conversation, Roy suggested that the couple “should be like Romeo and Juliet at the end.”
Carter abruptly responded with, “F— NO! WE ARE NOT DYING.”
Just days after Roy was found dead, Carter allegedly told a friend that she had been on the phone with him at the time of his death.
The prosecuting attorney Maryclare Flynn argued that Carter had played a “sick game” with Roy’s life, and his death was the direct result of her encouraging messages. The defense countered, arguing that Roy had suicidal tendencies that preceded the couple’s online relationship beginning in 2011.
The judge’s final ruling convicted Carter, concluding that her “virtual presence” at time of death, and “constant pressure” on Roy to commit suicide is sufficient proof to charge her with involuntary manslaughter.
Michelle Carter will be sentenced in August.