Girlfriend Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in Teen’s Suicide
20-year-old Michelle Carter was found guilty in June of involuntary manslaughter after she coaxed her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, into killing himself in a Fairhaven, Massachusetts parking lot back in 2014. Roy had filled his vehicle with carbon monoxide from a generator he had hooked up to it, all the while being texted by Carter to “get back in” after momentarily deciding not to go through with the act and stepping outside. She was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Thursday.
The guilty verdict would mark the first time in the state of Massachusetts that a person has been found guilty of manslaughter only by using words. It was issued by Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz. Carter opted for a bench trial, waiving her right to a jury.
During the trial, the prosecution pointed out Michelle’s cyber-bullying tactics. Those advocating for constitutional free speech argued that the prosecution’s stance violated Carter’s rights. Ultimately, Judge Moniz considered Carter’s age and the emotional maturity at the time of the crime when she was just shy of turning 18 when determining her sentence. His decision was far less than the prosecutor’s desired sentence of twelve years.
“I have not found that Ms. Carter’s age or level of maturity or even her mental illness have any significant impact on her actions,” Moniz said, although Carter does take psychiatric medication. “She was mindful of the actions for which she now stands convicted.” Basically, Carter was well aware that her ex would likely go through with the act when she insisted on persuading him.
Moniz is requiring Carter to spend nearly the first year and a half in prison, so she would get a taste of what life would be like behind bars, but agreed to a request issued by the defense to allow her to be released until her appeal options in the state courts had been exhausted. If they are successful with appealing, she could be facing a different future altogether.
The defense had initially fought for five years’ probation, which they felt was responsible given Carter’s position as a teenager at the time battling her own mental illness. The defense argued that she wasn’t mature enough to comprehend the severity of her actions. However, Roy had attempted committing suicide before the incident, a fact that Carter was privy to at the time of his death.
Conrad’s father, Conrad Roy Sr., made a statement to the court just prior to sentencing, saying, “Michelle Carter exploited my son’s weakness and used him as a pawn in her own well being. How could Michelle Carter behave so viciously and encourage my son to end his life? Maybe it was her inhumanity.” His sister, Camdyn, broke down in tears on the stand, speaking of waking up and going to bed each day since the incident thinking of her brother. And Lynn Roy, Conrad’s mother, said in a statement read by a prosecutor, she prays her son’s death “will save lives someday.” She added, “There is not one day that I do not mourn the loss of my beloved son.”