FILE – In a Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 file photo, Michelle Carter is waiting for her sentencing in a courtroom in Taunton, Mass., for involuntary manslaughter for the promotion of Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. Plaintiffs ask a court to order Michelle Carter to start her 15 months in prison for encouraging her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself. Michelle Carter will appear in court Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, for a hearing to consider the ministry’s request. (Matt West/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool, File)
TAUNTON, Mass. – A Massachusetts woman who sent her suicidal boyfriend, a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself was jailed Monday on an involuntary manslaughter conviction almost five years after he died in a truck filled with toxic gas.
Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2017 for her role in the death of Conrad Roy III, but the judge let her remain free while she talked. Massachusetts highest court affirmed her conviction last week, saying her actions caused Roy’s death.
A lawyer for Carter had requested the judge to the 22-year-old to stay out of prison while her case to the U.S. Supreme court. Her lawyers said in court documents that she has no prior criminal record, has not tried to flee, and is receiving mental health services.
But a judge ruled Monday that they must start her sentence. Carter showed no emotion as she was taken into custody, but her shoulders sagged as she stood, and prepared to be carried away.
Earlier in the day, Massachusetts ‘ highest court denied an emergency motion filed by her lawyers to get her out of prison.
Carter was 17 when Roy, 18, took his own life in Fairhaven, a town on Massachusetts’ south coast in July 2014. Her case garnered international attention and provided a disturbing look at teen depression and suicide.
Carter and Roy both struggled with depression, and Roy had previously tried to kill himself. Their relationship mainly consisted of text messages and other forms of electronic communication.
In dozens of sms messages revealed during her sensational trial, Carter pushed Roy to end his life and chastised him when he hesitated. Roy made excuses to put off his plans, her texts became more insistent.
“You keep pushing out and say that you are going to do, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you take no action,” Carter a text message from him that he was on the day that he died.
But the juvenile court judge directed a guilty verdict on the fact that Carter told Roy about the phone to get back in his truck and then it was filling with carbon monoxide. The judge said Carter had a duty to call the police, or Roy’s family, but instead listened on the phone when he died.
“After she convinced him to get back into the carbon monoxide filled truck, they did nothing to help him: she did not call for help or tell him to get out of the truck as she listened to him choke and die,” Supreme court Justice Scott Kafker wrote in the court’s opinion confirms her belief.
During the lawsuit, Carter’s lawyer argued Carter had initially tried to talk Roy out of suicide and encouraged him to get help. Her lawyer said Roy was determined to kill himself and nothing Carter did could change that.
Her appellate lawyers said that there was no evidence that Roy would have lived, as Carter had called for help. They also argued there was not enough evidence to prove that Carter told Roy to get back in his truck.
Her conversation with Roy was not recorded, but the officers of justice pointed out in an incoherent text that Carter to a friend two months later, in which she said called Roy’s death, her guilt and said she told Roy to “get” from the truck.
Daniel Marx, who argued that the case before the Supreme court, said last week that the ruling of the court “extends the right to assign blame for a tragedy that was not a crime.”
“It is very troubling consequences for free expression, a fair trial, and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that should concern us all,” he said.