Woman convicted of coercing boyfriend into suicide will remain free during appeal, for now

Massachusetts' highest court upheld the conviction Wednesday of a woman found guilty of convincing her teen boyfriend to kill himself, but she will remain fr...

Posted: Feb 6, 2019 5:19 PM
Updated: Feb 6, 2019 5:45 PM

Massachusetts' highest court upheld the conviction Wednesday of a woman found guilty of convincing her teen boyfriend to kill himself, but she will remain free as her lawyers work on her next appeal -- at least for the time being.

In their decision to affirm Michelle Carter's manslaughter conviction, judges said, 'The evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim's death by suicide.'

Carter was found guilty in June 2017 after a judge determined her texts to 18-year-old Conrad Roy III persuaded him to kill himself by inhaling carbon monoxide in his pickup.

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office said through a spokesman that it intended to file a motion revoking the stay of the 22-year-old's sentence, forcing her to serve time while her lawyers work on her appeal.

Because Carter has 28 days to request that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reconsider its ruling, the court won't likely set a date for Carter to begin her sentence until after those proceedings are complete, the prosecutor's office said.

Defense: Ruling has 'very troubling implications'

Carter attorney Daniel Marx said in a statement he was disappointed in the ruling, which he claims hinges on a narrative that is not supported by evidence.

'Today's decision stretches the law to assign blame for a tragedy that was not a crime. It has very troubling implications, for free speech, due process, and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that should concern us all,' he said, adding that he would appeal the case all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

In its ruling, the state high court said it failed to see the merit in the defense argument that Carter's texts were protected speech. Numerous crimes can be committed verbally without raising First Amendment concerns, the court found.

'Only the wanton or reckless pressuring of a person to commit suicide that overpowers that person's will to live has been proscribed,' it said.

Carter, who was 17 when Roy died, 'helped plan how, where, and when' her boyfriend would kill himself, 'downplayed his fears about how his suicide would affect his family' and 'repeatedly chastised him for his indecision,' the judges found.

'She did not call for help'

In one text presented as evidence, Carter told Roy, 'You better not be bull s***ting me and saying you're gonna do this and then purposely get caught.'

The judges also found Carter did not try to save Roy when she heard him coughing: 'She did not call emergency personnel, contact the victim's family, or instruct him to get out of the truck.'

The panel added:

  • 'The judge could have properly found, based on this evidence, that the vulnerable, confused, mentally ill 18-year-old victim had managed to save himself once again in the midst of his latest suicide attempt, removing himself from the truck as it filled with carbon monoxide. But then in this weakened state he was badgered back into the gas-infused truck by the defendant, his girlfriend and closest, if not only, confidant in this suicidal planning, the person who had been constantly pressuring him to complete their often discussed plan, fulfill his promise to her, and finally commit suicide. 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.'

In appealing Carter's conviction and 15-month sentence, her legal team said, 'Carter's words encouraging Roy's suicide, however distasteful to this court, were protected speech.'

The case touched on issues of suicide among teenagers as well as the legal gray area of whether someone can be convicted for another person's decision to kill himself. In their appeal, Carter's attorneys said the conviction went too far in criminalizing a defendant who was not present at the scene.

'Massachusetts would be the only state to uphold an involuntary manslaughter conviction where an absent defendant, with words alone, encouraged another person to commit suicide,' the attorneys wrote.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 728811

Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
St. Joseph35596550
Hamilton35536408
Elkhart28470441
Tippecanoe22375218
Vanderburgh22293396
Porter18701307
Johnson17923378
Hendricks17199315
Clark12943191
Madison12612339
Vigo12437246
Monroe11873170
LaPorte11856210
Delaware10667186
Howard9895216
Kosciusko9390117
Hancock8260140
Bartholomew8058155
Warrick7777155
Floyd7653178
Wayne7035199
Grant7032174
Boone6687101
Morgan6557139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6016111
Dearborn580077
Cass5794105
Henry5699103
Noble559883
Jackson501172
Shelby490696
Lawrence4522120
Harrison435072
Gibson434792
DeKalb427185
Clinton427053
Montgomery423688
Whitley395239
Huntington390080
Steuben385557
Miami381166
Knox371890
Jasper364747
Putnam359660
Wabash353479
Adams341054
Ripley339170
Jefferson329281
White313554
Daviess296299
Wells291381
Decatur284792
Fayette279562
Greene277885
Posey271333
Scott265653
LaGrange265570
Clay259447
Washington240332
Randolph239781
Spencer232131
Jennings229849
Starke215953
Fountain212046
Sullivan211442
Owen198756
Fulton194840
Jay193630
Carroll188520
Orange182654
Perry182637
Rush173025
Vermillion168843
Franklin167835
Tipton162845
Parke146116
Blackford134632
Pike133734
Pulaski116645
Newton107734
Brown101941
Crawford99514
Benton98514
Martin88615
Warren81815
Switzerland7858
Union71010
Ohio56511
Unassigned0414

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
Lorain24997481
Warren24274298
Mahoning21546588
Lake20653369
Clermont19761238
Delaware18512133
Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
Erie7888154
Hancock6914127
Ross6846155
Ashtabula6805170
Geauga6686148
Scioto6406101
Belmont5881167
Union570848
Lawrence5549102
Jefferson5525151
Huron5430119
Darke5355123
Sandusky5347120
Seneca5282121
Athens519158
Washington5155109
Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
Shelby469293
Knox4486110
Madison435661
Putnam4278100
Fulton422469
Ashland421789
Defiance419697
Crawford3975107
Brown394157
Logan381676
Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
Highland355062
Williams339275
Champaign331658
Guernsey315653
Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
Fayette281950
Hardin270864
Henry268666
Coshocton265257
Holmes2603101
Van Wert243463
Adams237852
Pike237634
Gallia235349
Wyandot231055
Hocking215362
Carroll191547
Paulding172640
Meigs144840
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 31°
Angola
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 29°
Huntington
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 33°
Decatur
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 31°
Van Wert
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 34°
Rain moves in overnight into Sunday morning and looks to hang around much of the day, likely forcing Mother's Day plans indoors
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events