Teen who drove boyfriend to suicide has potential for early prison release

Autumn Page, Staff Reporter

You may know Michelle Carter from all the way back in 2014, when she urged her boyfriend to kill himself and got convicted of involuntary manslaughter when he went through with it. She’s currently serving a 15-month sentence, with a release date scheduled for March. Her lawyers, on the other hand, are trying to get her released sooner.

The fact that she only got a 15-month sentence and her lawyers are trying to get her out sooner is flat out barbaric. 

Her boyfriend Conrad Roy, 18, poisoned himself with carbon monoxide in a Kmart parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, after texting Carter and speaking to her twice on the phone that day. 

In 2012, Carter and Roy began a long-distance relationship, talking primarily through texts and phone calls. Two years later, Carter, who was 17 at the time, sent Roy a series of text messages in a two-week period exhorting him to kill himself and belittling him when he expressed hesitation, prosecutors said during her trial. What the hell.

According to NBC News, she later told a friend that he had become frightened at one point and climbed out of the truck, but he got back in after she told him to. This statement and her failure to call 911 or help were key facts supporting her conviction, according to the trial judge. 

In current time, the Supreme Court decided that the appeal of Carter’s conviction will not be heard, without comment from any individual justice, which would allow the conviction to stand. Huh, I wonder why, truly a mystery.

Last year, Carter’s lawyers argued her conviction was “unprecedented” and violated her First Amendment right (free speech) and her Fifth Amendment right to due process, according to Buzzfeed News.

Her attorney Daniel Marx (of Fick & Marx) said, “Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy’s tragic death and should not be held criminally responsible for his suicide.”

Massachusetts is the only state to have upheld the conviction of a “physically absent defendant who encouraged another person to commit suicide with words alone,” according to Carter’s petition. Carter lived 50 miles away from Roy in Plainville, Massachusetts. 

In response to her petition, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey pointed out in court filings the scores of text messages, in which Carter and Roy discussed the method he’d chosen to kill himself. 

She said Carter “knew Roy had previously attempted suicide but had abandoned or foiled his own attempts, and she taunted him that he would purposely fail in killing himself again.” Carter “carried out a ‘systematic campaign of coercion’ that ‘targeted the equivocating young victim’s insecurities and acted to subvert his willpower in favor of her own’ in the last weeks of his life,” Healey continued, according to The Washington Post.

Carter’s lawyers said the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) — Massachusetts’ highest court — ruling conflicted with decisions of other state supreme courts that had refused to apply the same “much-criticized” exception in similar circumstances. They also argued the SJC had misconstrued and “significantly expanded” on the exception.

Her lawyers argued Carter’s speech was not integral to criminal conduct because she did not engage in any conduct other “than talking (or texting).” Her conviction “rested entirely on the content of the words that she spoke to Roy,” her petition said.

I hate to say it, but I’m strangely relieved that Carter isn’t getting out yet. Teens’ mental states are declining, and having someone like Carter free to do this again could end up with more people like Roy. I don’t think any of us are ready for that yet.