Finally some justice for Conrad Roy III‘s family.
As you may recall, Michelle Carter (who was tried as a juvenile because she was 17 at the time of the crime) encouraged her 18-year-old online boyfriend to commit suicide via some extremely disturbing text messages. Conrad was found dead on July 13, 2014 in his truck after succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning.
In a landmark decision on Friday, Massachusetts’ Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz found Carter, now 20, guilty of involuntary manslaughter. She faces up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced on August 3.
Judge Moniz said during his 15-minute ruling:
“This court has found that Carter’s actions and failure to act where it was her self-created duty to Roy since she put him in that toxic environment constituted reckless conduct. The court finds that the conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy.”
Moniz referenced the prosecutor’s evidence that during the incident when Conrad became sick from the fumes and stepped out of his vehicle, Carter directed him by phone to “get back in.”
The judge said:
“She admits in subsequent texts that she did nothing, she did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family. And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ├óΓé¼╦£Get out of the truck.'”
“She instructed Mr. Roy to get back into the truck, well knowing his ambiguities, his fears, his concerns. This court finds that instructing Mr. Roy to get back in the truck constituted wanton and reckless conduct, by Ms. Carter creating a situation where there is a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to Mr. Roy.”
This case has been one to watch because it’s uncharted territory that raises the question of whether someone could kill someone just through words and encouragement… and whether those words are constitutionally protected speech. In most cases, suicide is considered free will.
As Northeastern University law professor Daniel S. Medwed said:
“This sends a strong message to people that using technology to bully people into committing suicide will not be tolerated.”
Our thoughts continue to be with all those affected by this very sad loss.