Woman found guilty of involuntary manslaughter because of her text messages

Austin Daniel
June 27, 2017

Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz delivered his verdict Friday morning, during which he referenced the evidence that Carter, then 18, told Roy to get back into his truck, which was parked in a K-mart plaza parking lot in Fairhaven, after he began to express doubts about committing suicide.

Michelle Carter has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after being charged with encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself in a series of text messages.

The trial heard that Carter and Roy exchanged hundreds of text messages in which Carter urged him to follow through on his plan to kill himself, urged him to hide it from his parents, lie to his mother and select a secluded parking lot. Dr. Breggin, who testified for the defense, said that Carter had no nefarious intent and genuinely thought she was helping Roy.

Another Massachusetts defense lawyer, J. Drew Segadelli, applauded the judge for his "careful consideration" of Carter's damning text message to Roy to "get back in the" vehicle.

The case is the first of its kind, but it's believed that Carter could face up to 20 years in prison.

Carter, now 20, was freed on bail but ordered not to contact Roy's family or leave the state.

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Carter was 17 when she sent Roy messages encouraging him to take his end his life.

A statement from Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association, seemed to support Moniz's decision, saying that Carter's fate "was sealed through the use of her own words". They argued that Roy had a history of depression, had tried to kill himself before and had conducted hundreds of online searches for ways to die.

"I think she needs to be held responsible for her actions 'cause she knew exactly what she was doing and what she said", she told correspondent Erin Moriarty. She told him to get back in the auto.

The verdict, handed down by a judge in a non-jury trial, was a rare legal finding that, essentially, a person's words alone can directly cause someone else's suicide. "Instructing Mr. Roy to get back in the truck constituted wanton and reckless conduct, creating a situation where there's a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result". "You just keep pushing it off to another night and say you'll do it but you never do".

The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the conviction, saying it "exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections" guaranteed by the MA and US constitutions.

Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury, which voted to indict Carter on a count of involuntary manslaughter.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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