The state Supreme Court in Massachusetts heard the suicide case of Michelle Carter this week. In 2014, Carter sent multiple text messages to Conrad Roy III, at the time a 17-year-old Massachusetts student who was contemplating suicide. Carter’s distraught boyfriend was sitting in his idling truck in a Kmart parking lot, the cab filling with deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Roy jumped out, afraid and having second thoughts about ending his life. He reached out to his girlfriend Michelle, who sent a chilling text response – “Get back in.”
Defense attorney Joseph P. Cataldo argued that the involuntary manslaughter charge brought against Carter be dismissed. The Juvenile Court in New Bedford, Mass. earlier had refused to dismiss the youthful offender indictment against her, and on appeal the Supreme Judicial Court now has been asked to intervene.
Reports The Associated Press on April 7, via MSN News: “The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in Carter’s appeal of a juvenile court judge’s refusal to dismiss the manslaughter charge stemming from Roy’s 2014 death. The justices made it clear they were struggling with whether Carter’s actions met the definition of manslaughter, peppering both side with questions about exactly what she did to encourage or assist Roy’s suicide.”
Roy was found dead in the parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. According to court affidavits, Carter texted a female friend shortly after Roy committed suicide: “[If the police] read my messages with him I’m done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail.” However, Cataldo claims the facts are reversed – Roy “brainwashed” Carter into supporting his plan to end his life.
Prosecutors vehemently disagree, calling Carter’s actions “emotional manipulation.” They paint a picture of the 17-year-old Carter spearheading a social media campaign to indoctrinate Roy and devalue his life. Not only did she allegedly encourage the boy to commit suicide, she then organized various fundraising campaigns in his honor. Three days after Roy died, Carter expressed her sorrow and utter dismay, tweeting out: “I will never understand why this had to happen.”
One of her texts to Roy read: “You can’t keep pushing it off, though. That’s all you keep doing.” Another said: “You can’t think about it. You just have to do it.”
In fact, Carter even texted very specific information about how Roy should facilitate his death; she sent info to him about the truck’s tailpipe, connecting tubes, the appropriate amount of carbon dioxide, if Roy had a generator, how long it would take, and if Roy thought about using a bag to suffocate himself or if he considered hanging.
According to CBS Boston, another attorney on Carter’s legal team, Dana Curhan, said Roy was determined to take his own life and that Carter repeatedly tried to talk him out of it but then finally gave into Roy’s wishes a few weeks before he died.
“Even when she said, ‘get back in the truck,’ that was not the proximate event that resulted in his death,” Curhan said. “The undisputed evidence is that Mr. Roy inflicted the harm. Verbally encouraging someone to commit suicide, no matter how forceful the encouragement, does not constitute a crime in Massachusetts.”
Do you think the court should dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charges?