Teen Who Urged Suicide of Boyfriend Found Guilty of Manslaughter
A Massachusetts woman who sent her distraught boyfriend a series of text messages that urged him to take his own life was recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The young woman, Michelle Carter, and her boyfriend Conrad Roy III were both teenagers at the time of Roy’s death. This case of a teen who urged the suicide of her boyfriend and was found guilty of manslaughter has raised legal questions as to the modern definition of manslaughter and whether words can truly kill.
It is thought that the decision by Bristol Juvenile Judge Lawrence Moniz of Massachusetts to find Carter guilty in the death of her 18-year-old boyfriend could have future consequences for similar criminal cases involving assisted suicide and the speech (via texting or other online means) of those connected to these events.
If you are currently facing a manslaughter charge, it’s important to take action to hire a skilled and experienced Pittsburgh manslaughter attorney to defend your rights and fight for the most favorable outcome in your case. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 or contact us online to request a free, no-obligation consultation.
The Case Evidence
On July 13, 2014, Conrad Roy III was found deceased in the cab of his pickup truck in a Kmart parking lot. Present at the scene was a tube from a generator that was filling the vehicle with carbon monoxide.
This unique case involved over 1,000 text and Facebook messages sent between Michelle Carter and her boyfriend Conrad Roy, in addition to other messages Carter sent to her friends after Roy’s death in which she revealed her communications with him leading up to the suicide.
Carter, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, later indicated to friends that she was on the phone with Roy up until the very moment he passed out from the carbon monoxide fumes. When Roy expressed reservations about staying in the vehicle and climbed out of the cab, she told him to go back in.
In his ruling on the case, Judge Moniz stated that Carter’s instructions to Roy to go back inside the truck amounted to “wanton and reckless conduct by Ms. Carter, creating a situation where there is a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to Mr. Roy.”
Even though Roy himself carried out all of the actions that led to his death, such as researching how to perform the act, obtaining the generator, and rigging it to the vehicle, he clearly expressed doubts and second thoughts about what he was doing. This had also happened in the past when he would call a parent or friend at the last moment before carrying out a previous suicide attempt.
Carter’s advice to her friend was considerable regarding his threats and intention to commit suicide. In the text messages that led up to his death, she seemingly belittled him for not making good on his past threats to commit suicide. She encouraged him to follow through and sought from him a promise that he would do so. In addition, she sent him information about different methods of suicide, including jumping off a building and hanging himself. Another point of advice she gave was that Roy should perform the act away from his home so that no one would prevent him from following through.
At the time of the trial, the decision was made by Michelle Carter (now 20 years old) along with her lawyer that she would waive her right to a jury trial. The reasoning provided by her lawyer was that a judge would follow the law more closely in determining her legal liability in the matter.
As it turns out, the judge did find her legally responsible for Roy’s death of the level of a manslaughter conviction.
Sentencing, in this case, is scheduled for August 3. The maximum prison sentence faced by Carter is 20 years. However, it is somewhat unlikely that such a lengthy sentence would be imposed. The judge has allowed Carter to continue free on bail until the date of her sentencing.
Possible Impact on Future Cases
Prosecutors have not been successful in the past at obtaining convictions against individuals who allegedly bullied others into committing suicide. In this case, the decision to convict Carter was handed down by a juvenile court judge. As such, it may not establish a legal precedent for future cases.
However, some legal scholars believe it could have a significant effect on how courts deal with suicide cases of this nature in the future. As well, prosecutors may have more confidence bringing similar cases like this to trial in the future if, in fact, the conviction, in this case, is not eventually overturned on appeal.
Contact a Skilled Pittsburgh Criminal Manslaughter Attorney
Regardless of the nature of your manslaughter charge, it is important for you to get the legal representation you need from an experienced and skilled attorney who knows how to intelligently and vigorously defend you. Our experienced team at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC can provide a strong defense on your behalf.
Contact us today at (412) 281-2146 to request a free case evaluation.