The Woman Who Encouraged Her Boyfriend To Kill Himself Is Found Guilty Of Involuntary Manslaughter

The Woman Who Encouraged Her Boyfriend To Kill Himself Is Found Guilty Of Involuntary Manslaughter
  • A Massachusetts judge has found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her then-boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, whom prosecutors said was encouraged to kill himself by Carter through a series of texts and phone calls.

Massachusetts’ Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge, Lawrence Moniz handed down his decision on Friday, three days after closing statements in Carter’s six-day trial.

She faces up to 20 years in prison as she was charged as a youthful offender, which under state law allows her to be sentenced the same as an adult although she was a minor at the time of the crime.

Michelle Carter cries while flanked by defense attorneys Joseph Cataldo, left, and Cory Madera, after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the suicide of Conrad Roy III, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, Mass. (Glenn C.Silva/Fairhaven Neighborhood News, Pool)
Michelle Carter in court soon after learning she was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Conrad Roy’s death (GLENN C.SILVA/FAIRHAVEN NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS/POOL)

Michelle Carter, 20, who encouraged her 18-year-old boyfriend — through text messages — to kill himself, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by a Massachusetts judge on Friday.

Conrad Roy killed himself on July 12, 2014, by inhaling carbon monoxide produced by a water pump in his truck. The teen who had a history of mental illness and had previously attempted suicide got out of the truck because he was “scared,” but Carter texted him to “get back in,” according to text messages the two exchanged during the course of their relationship.

Carter waived her right to a jury trial, leaving her fate to be decided by Judge Lawrence Moniz. On Friday, Moniz returned a guilty verdict. Moniz said that Carter’s actions constituted “wanton and reckless conduct” when she instructed Roy to get back in his truck despite knowing that it was a toxic environment “inconsistent with human life.” He said that her conduct caused Roy’s death.

(Photo: Pat Greenhouse, AP) Defendant Michelle Carter listens as prosecutor Maryclare Flynn makes her opening statement Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Taunton, Mass. Carter is charged with manslaughter for allegedly using text messages to encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, 18, to kill himself.
(Photo: Pat Greenhouse, AP) Defendant Michelle Carter listens as prosecutor Maryclare Flynn makes her opening statement Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Taunton, Mass. Carter is charged with manslaughter for allegedly using text messages to encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, 18, to kill himself.

Moniz said,

She instructs Roy to get back in the truck knowing of all the feelings he has exchanged with her; his ambiguities, his fears, his concerns. This court finds that by instructing Mr. Roy to get back in the truck constitutes wanton and reckless conduct by Ms. Carter, creating a situation where there is a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to Mr. Roy.”

Moniz said that Carter — in her text messages to friends — admitted that “she did nothing” to save Roy. He said that she did not call the police, or his family, despite knowing his location.

Moniz said,

She did not issue a simple additional instruction, ‘Get out of the truck,‘”

Moniz did not revoke Carter’s bail and scheduled her sentencing for Aug. 3. She faces up to 20 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

‘You need to do it’: Michelle Carter

Carter, now 20, was 17 years old when Roy was found dead, on July 13, 2014. She was indicted for involuntary manslaughter in his death in February 2015, after authorities discovered numerous text messages between her and Roy before his suicide.

Michelle Carter cries after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the suicide of Conrad Roy III, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, Mass. (Glenn C.Silva/Fairhaven Neighborhood News, Pool)
Michelle Carter cries after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the suicide of Conrad Roy III, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, Mass. (Glenn C.Silva/Fairhaven Neighborhood News, Pool)

Those messages, as well as calls between the pair, showed that Carter encouraged Roy’s plan to kill himself — even when he was wavering. For example, in the days before his death, she texted him,

You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you [will] be free and happy. No more pushing it, no more waiting.”

After Roy’s body was found, Carter texted a friend to confess. She wrote,

“I could have stopped it,

I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I [expletive] told him to get back in.”

Prosecutors had argued that through text messages and phone calls, Carter, 17 at the time, pressured Roy to kill himself, instructed him as to when and how to do it, assuaged his concerns over killing himself, and chastised him when he delayed doing so.

They said that Carter used Roy as a “pawn in her sick game of life and death” and wanted to be “the grieving girlfriend to gain her peers’ attention and sympathy, which she always craved.

Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy SOURCE: MICHELLE CARTER/FACEBOOK; SOURCE: CONRAD ROY/FACEBOOK
Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy
SOURCE: MICHELLE CARTER/FACEBOOK; SOURCE: CONRAD ROY/FACEBOOK

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Carter’s defense team

Carter’s defense team said that Roy was “suicidal” over a long period of time and that he “was on this path to take his own life for years.” Moniz said on Friday that it was “irrelevant” to the court whether Carter would have taken his life “at another time.”

Carter’s lawyers had also argued that since Carter was 30 miles away when Roy killed himself, she was not the cause of his death. They said his death was a suicide, not a homicide.

Defense Attorney Cory Madera makes notes as defendant Michelle Carter listens with attorney Joseph Cataldo (not shown) during her trial at Taunton Juvenile Court in Taunton, Mass., Monday, June 12, 2017. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Faith Ninivaggi/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Michelle Carter  in court during her trial (FAITH NINIVAGGI/THE BOSTON HERALD/AP)

A controversial psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Breggin, testified Monday that Carter was “involuntarily intoxicated” by antidepressants, which made her “delusional” and “grandiose.” 

Breggin said Carter thought she was “doing a good thing” by encouraging Roy to kill himself. Carter’s lawyers had also said that she had her own “mental health issues” at the time of Roy’s death and was “overwhelmed” by the relationship.

In a brief statement after the verdict, Roy’s father said he was thankful to the judge and the prosecution team.

“This has been a very tough time for our family and we’d like to process this verdict that we’re happy with,” he said.

“Although we are very pleased with the verdict today, in reality, there are no winners here today,

Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn said at a press conference after the verdict.

“We fully understand that this was a unique case that dealt with a lot of important issues in our society today,” Rayburn said. “But in the end, it was really about one young man and one young woman who were brought together by tragic circumstances.”