Michelle Carter, Teen Who Allegedly Urged Boyfriend to Commit Suicide Via Text, to Stand Trial for Manslaughter

Michelle Carter
Michelle Carter during her hearing for involuntary manslaughter in 2015. Peter Pereira/The New Bedford Standard Times via AP

Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts teen who allegedly urged her boyfriend to commit suicide via text message in 2014, will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, the state’s highest court ruled on Friday, July 1.

The Supreme Judicial Court determined that Carter, who was 17 at the time, had preyed upon her boyfriend Conrad Roy III’s insecurities and used a “systematic campaign of coercion” to convince him to do the deed, according to the Associated Press.

This, the jury determined, was a “direct, causal link” to his death by carbon monoxide.

In 2014, Roy committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide fumes from his car while sitting in a Kmart parking lot. At one point during the incident, Roy reportedly had doubts about going through with the plan, but Carter texted him to “get back in” the car.

“I thought you wanted to do this,” she reportedly wrote in one message. “The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it!”

“You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t,” she wrote in another, according to the AP.

The since-released text messages have helped the state to determine Carter’s charges. (Her lawyers previously argued that the texts were protected by the First Amendment and had not directly caused Roy to kill himself.)

“In sum, we conclude that there was probable cause to show that the coercive quality of the defendant’s verbal conduct overwhelmed whatever willpower the eighteen-year-old victim had to cope with his depression, and that but for the defendant’s admonishments, pressure and instructions, the victim would not have gotten back into the truck and poisoned himself to death,” Justice Robert Cordy wrote in the decision.

Carter and Roy initially met in Florida in 2012, while visiting relatives, and developed a romantic relationship that lasted for the next two years leading up to Roy’s death.

Though the pair were on and off throughout the course of their relationship, they had reconciled one month before Roy’s death, according to prosecutors. They had not seen each other in person for more than a year at that point.

Roy had attempted suicide before and had a history of mental illness. One day after he was released from a mental institution in Worcester, Massachusetts, he tried to overdose on prescription pills.

According to documents obtained by local news source Mass Live, Roy was saved when he told a girl he had met during treatment about his overdose and she called 911.

“He told his mother he ‘would never do that to [her] again,’ and never again mentioned wanting or trying to take his life to her,” the prosecutors wrote.

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