BOSTON — Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts woman serving 15 months in prison for encouraging her boyfriend through text messages to kill himself, was denied early release by the state's parole board Friday.
Two members of the Massachusetts Parole Board wrote the decision for the seven-member panel, saying "the (board) is troubled that Ms. Carter not only encouraged Mr. Conrad to take his own life, she actively prevented others from intervening in his suicide."
Carter, 22, appeared before the board Thursday to ask for early release in the high-profile case that stems from the 2014 suicide death of Conrad Roy III, then 18 years old. She's been in prison since February after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017.
"Ms. Carter's self-serving statements and behavior, leading up to and after his suicide, appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity," the one-page decision reads. "Ms. Carter needs to further address her causative factors that led to the governing offense. Release does not meet the legal standard."
Carter was 17 at the time of Roy's death in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. She pressured him incessantly by text messages to kill himself leading up to his death, which was caused by inhaling fumes in a generator that he put inside a truck. Roy had attempted suicide multiple times and had struggled with depression and mental illness.
Carter, of Plainville, Massachusetts, had a lengthy phone call with Roy when he was parked in a Kmart parking lot, where the death occurred, and later texted a friend that she told him to "get back in" the vehicle after he had stepped out.
"Given subject's behavior in facilitating victim's death, release not compatible with best interest of society," wrote one of the parole board members, whose name was unidentified. "Did not provide sufficient insight into reason for lack of empathy at time of crime and surrounding time period."
Members of Roy's family attended Thursday's parole hearing, which was not open to the public.
"At the time of sentencing, we recommended a much more severe sentence due to the egregious nature of the crime and the defendant’s refusal to acknowledge the gravity of the crime she committed," Gregg Miliote, spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney's Office in Massachusetts, said in a statement on the board's decision.
"It’s unfortunate that in the five years since Conrad’s death, the Parole Board found she still does not have sufficient insight into her crime and lacks empathy. As always, our concern is for the Roy family and the public’s safety."
Carter has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn her 2017 involuntary manslaughter conviction by a state court. It was upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in February.
Joseph Cataldo, Carter's attorney, said the board's decision was "obviously premised on an incorrect and dangerous prior legal ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court. To that end, we have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Additionally, it is never in society's best interest to incarcerate anyone for the content of their speech where there wasn't a specific statute criminalizing such speech at the time the speech was made."
Suicide prevention experts: What you say (and don't say) could save a person's life
The troubling case reentered the spotlight this summer with HBO's release of a two-part documentary, "I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter."
With the backing of Roy's mother, Lynn Roy, Massachusetts state lawmakers are considering legislation, dubbed "Conrad's Law," that would would criminalize suicide coercion in the commonwealth.
Massachusetts is one of 10 sates that lack laws that explicitly punish individuals who induce others to kill themselves. Rather than being subject to manslaughter, like Carter, the bill would impose a new criminal liability specifically for a person who intentionally "encourages or coerces" a suicide or suicide attempt.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter: @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Michelle Carter suicide case: Parole board denies early release