A Look at the Upcoming Trial for Woman Who Urged Boyfriend to Kill Himself
The trial of Michelle Carter, the 20-year-old Massachusetts woman who urged her boyfriend to kill himself through text messages, is about to begin. Back in 2014, she sent dozens of text messages to her boyfriend Conrad Roy III, telling him that the time was right, and to just “do it.” He subsequently killed himself through carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck.
But Carter’s lawyer has argued that text messages are protected free speech. She also argued that Roy had been depressed for some time and that Carter couldn’t be responsible for his death. Jury selection was set to begin Monday, but Carter opted for a bench trial, which means her fate will be decided by the judge and not by a jury.
She is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter in Bristol County Juvenile Court. Although it’s difficult to convict someone for what they wrote in a text message, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court–which ruled that Carter must stand trial in an appeal of a lower court’s decision not to dismiss the case–said in a 2016 ruling, “But for the defendant’s admonishments, pressure, and instructions, the victim would not have gotten back into the truck and poisoned himself to death.”
NEW: Michelle Carter arrives at court for trial
— Peter Wilson (@PetesWire) June 5, 2017
The police investigation after Roy’s suicide concluded that Carter had “strongly influenced” his decision to take his own life using carbon monoxide. The couple reportedly met online and mainly kept in touch over the internet, only meeting in person twice. They had apparently not seen each other for a year at the time of Roy’s death.
According to a court filing, Roy had a history of mental illness and had previously tried to kill himself. Later, after he expressed a wish to kill himself, Carter tried to persuade him to do it. “You already made this decision and if you don’t do it tonight you’re gonna be thinking abut it all the time and stuff all the rest of your life and be miserable,” she wrote to him.
Carter also wrote, “You have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.” She added that he always seemed to have an excuse to not do it and scolded him for not going through with it. It’s unclear why she urged him to kill himself rather than getting help. At one point Roy said he was scared and got out of his car to call her. But she convinced him to go back in and finish what he started.
It’s hard to say what the outcome of this trial will be, but the disturbing content and detail of the text message conversations have made it one that many will follow. Opening statements begin on Tuesday morning.