Michelle Carter: High court upholds conviction of woman who encouraged boyfriend's suicide with text messages

Chelsea Ritschel

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has upheld the manslaughter conviction of a woman who persuaded her boyfriend through text messages to commit suicide.

Michelle Carter, 22, will serve 15 months in prison for the July 2014 suicide of Conrad Roy III, 18, after she was found guilty in 2017.

Prior to the court’s decision Wednesday, Carter’s sentence had been placed on hold as her appeal was reviewed.

According to court documents, the conviction of involuntary manslaughter was upheld by the court because “the evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim’s death by suicide”.

The ruling continued: “Her conviction of involuntary manslaughter as a youthful offender is not legally or constitutionally infirm. The judgement is therefore affirmed."

It was previously ruled by the Bristol County Juvenile Court that Carter caused Roy’s death in Fairhaven, Massachusetts by encouraging him to “get back in” his truck, where he would eventually kill himself with carbon monoxide.

The couple reportedly spoke on the phone twice as Roy, who was suicidal and had previously been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, contemplated his suicide, Bristol County prosecutors heard during the 2017 trial.

Carter also encouraged Roy to take his life over text, writing: “No more pushing it off. No more waiting".

In another message, Carter wrote: "You can't think about it. You just have to do it".

During the trial, a guilty ruling was supported with text messages Carter sent to her friends following Roy’s death, in which she took the blame for Roy's suicide and said it was her "fault".

Court documents reveal the high court used Carter’s messages in its decision: “As the defendant herself explained, and we repeat due to its importance, ‘[The victim’s] death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him I was on the phone with him and he got out of the [truck] because it was working and he got scared and I f***ing told him to get back in… because I knew he would do it all over again the next day and I couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore I couldn’t do it I wouldn’t let him.”

In a statement to NBC, Carter’s lawyer Daniel Marx expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and suggested an appeal to the US Supreme Court was possible.

“We continue to believe that Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy’s tragic death, and she should not be held criminally responsible for his choice to end his own life,” he said. “We will evaluate all legal options including a possible appeal to the US Supreme Court.”

If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention line at 1-800-273-8255.