Judge Finds Michelle Carter Guilty of Manslaughter In Texting Suicide Case
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 6/16/2017, 1:45 p.m.
By Ray Sanchez and Natisha Lance
(CNN) -- In a case that hinged largely on a teenage couple's intimate text messages, Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Friday in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, who poisoned himself by inhaling carbon monoxide in his pickup truck, a Massachusetts judge ruled.
Carter's own words -- preserved in hundreds of text messages presented as evidence over six days of testimony -- helped seal her conviction in the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz said during a 15-minute explanation of his rationale.
"She admits in ... texts that she did nothing: She did not call the police or Mr. Roy's family" after hearing his last breaths during a phone call, Moniz said. "And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck."
Carter, 20, cried silently as Moniz spoke. She stood to receive the ruling, which could set legal precedent for whether it's a crime to tell someone to commit suicide.
'There are no winners here'
Prosecutors had argued that Carter sent Roy numerous text messages urging him to commit suicide, listened over the phone as he suffocated, and failed to alert authorities or his family that he'd died. The judge agreed.
"This court has found that Carter's actions and failure to act where it was her self-created duty to Roy since she put him in that toxic environment constituted reckless conduct," the judge said. "The court finds that the conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy."
With Carter standing, Moniz said, "This court, having reviewed the evidence, finds you guilty on the indictment with involuntary manslaughter."
Roy's relatives, who sat near Carter in the front row of Moniz's courtroom, wept as the judge ticked through the steps Roy took to end his life, as well as Carter's complicity. Sitting opposite them, Carter's family members also sobbed.
"Although we are very pleased with the verdict, in reality there are no winners here," prosecutor Katie Rayburn told reporters later. "Two families had been torn apart and will be affected by this for years to come. We hope verdict will bring some closure... It's been an extremely emotionally draining process for everyone involved."
Roy aspired to be a tugboat captain and would be alive if not for Carter's actions, Rayburn said. He had been trying to better himself, and "we all wish he had the opportunity" to grow up, she said.
Added Roy's father, Conrad Roy Jr.: "This has been a very tough time for our family, and we would just like to process this verdict that we are happy with."
Moniz let Carter, who was tried as a juvenile because she was 17 at the time of the crime, remain free on bail until her sentencing on August 3. She was ordered to have no contact with members of the Roy family. She cannot apply for or obtain a passport, nor can she leave Massachusetts without permission from a judge.