A 20-year-old woman whose boyfriend took his own life three years ago, is currently on trial charged with involuntary manslaughter after it was alleged she encouraged him to commit suicide.
Michelle Carter, 20, of Boston, Massachusetts has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for her alleged role in the suicide of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III in July 2014. In the unusual case which is being heard at the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, prosecutors allege that Carter purposefully drove her boyfriend to suicide in order to win public sympathy and attention.
The court heard that on the morning of July 12 2014, Carter, then 17, encouraged Mr Roy to kill himself via dozens of telephone calls and text messages while he sat in his truck.
Accused of encouraging suicide
‘You need to do it, Conrad,’ she wrote in one text to Roy, who was suffering from depression. ‘You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you will be free and happy.’
She told him in another message: ‘You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It’s Okay to be scared and it’s normal. It means you’re about to die.’
It’s alleged that when Mr Roy expressed reservations about killing him, Michelle Carter kept urging him to continue. ‘I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready…just do it babe. No more pushing it off. No more waiting.’
The court heard that while Mr Roy sat in his truck, which was in a Kmart car park outside Boston, MA, he and Carter spoke for 47 minutes. The teenager had planned to connect a generator to his exhaust system in order to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. But during the phone call with Carter he started having doubts, and at one point got out of his truck.
The court heard that Carter then texted Roy: ‘Get the f*** back in the car.’
Fundraising in his memory
Mr Roy’s body was discovered the next day. In the aftermath, Michelle Carter led a charity softball event in his honour, fundraising for mental health awareness.
When Carter was charged in 2015 her lawyer tried to get the charge dismissed, but a juvenile court denied the request. Her lawyer appealed to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, who then ordered Carter to stand trial. The court stated that a grand jury in Bristol County had probable cause for indicting her, arguing Mr Roy’s would not have got back into the truck and poisoned himself were it not for Carter’s conduct.
Previous suicide attempts
However Carter’s defence argued that Michelle Carter had previously urged Roy to get help after he’d attempted to take his own life several times before. He’d also spent time researching suicide methods online. Carter’s defence also stated she was taking medication for mental health issues, which may have clouded her judgement.
Her lawyers also requested that the case be dismissed on the grounds of free speech, but this was rejected after a judge ruled encouraging suicide was not protected under the US constitution.
The case, which will be decided by a judge rather than a jury is ongoing.