A judge has issued a guilty verdict in the trial of a Massachusetts woman accused of sending her suicidal boyfriend text messages that encouraged him to take his own life.
Following Judge Lawrence Moniz’s announcement of the verdict in Michelle Carter’s case, sobs broke out among those present in Bristol Juvenile Court.
Carter faces 20 years imprisonment in the 2014 suicide of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III who was found dead in his pickup truck due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carter, now 20, is allowed to remain free on bail. The judge ordered her not to make contact with Roy’s family and not to leave Massachusetts.
During Roy’s suicide attempt, Carter had advised him via text to “get back in” his truck as it filled with carbon monoxide. In other messages to a friend, Carter took blame for the incident, claiming that Roy’s death “is my fault.”
“I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it!” said one of Carter’s messages to Roy.
According to Monday testimony from a psychiatrist, Carter was a “very troubled youngster” who took antidepressants that caused her to be “involuntarily intoxicated” when she advised Roy to take his own life.
Prosecutors argued that Carter, who was 17 at the time, harassed Roy to act on his suicidal thoughts. Carter’s lawyer characterized Roy as a young man with a history of depression and attempts at suicide who was determined to take his own life.
The verdict was criticized by the ACLU of Massachusetts.
“Mr. Roy’s death is a terrible tragedy, but it is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution,” legal director Matthew Segal said in a statement. “There is no law in Massachusetts making it a crime to encourage someone, or even to persuade someone, to commit suicide.”
Segal contended that the conviction “could chill important and worthwhile end-of-life discussions” between families and friends.
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