Michelle Carter, who goaded boyfriend to kill himself, loses Supreme Court appeal for 1st Amendment violation
The Supreme Court's decision kept the involuntary manslaughter conviction of Michelle Carter, 23, intact for encouraging her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide through texts and phone calls in July 2014
FAIRHAVEN, MASSACHUSETTS: The appeal of a Massachusetts woman, who goaded her boyfriend to kill himself, was thrown out by the Supreme Court on Monday, January 13. The Supreme Court's decision kept the involuntary manslaughter conviction of Michelle Carter, 23, intact for encouraging her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide through texts and phone calls in July 2014.
The court refused to decide whether her conviction violated the First Amendment guarantee of free speech because it was solely based on the words she texted or spoke, NBC News reported. She was originally sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Carter was arrested after the victim was found dead in his truck in a Fairhaven parking lot due to the inhalation of Carbon Monoxide. Investigators later found that Roy had a series of failed suicide attempts before he finally succeeded to take his own life.
During the trial, prosecutors said that she texted the victim in the days leading up to the suicide, goading him to go ahead with his plan, and spoke to him twice on the phone the day he took his own life. Carter also later confessed to a friend that during his final suicide attempt, he became afraid at one point and climbed out of the truck, but that she told him on the phone to get back in.
The judge stated that her failure to call 911 or summon help in any form were key components in the case. While the prosecutors argued Carter had subjected her boyfriend to a systematic campaign of coercion, which preyed on Roy's insecurities by repeatedly urging him "just to do it" and that "the time (was) right," the defense lawyers countered, saying that their client could not be convicted based solely on the words she texted or spoke or failed to write or speak.
"Carter neither provided Roy with the means of his death nor physically participated in his suicide," the lawyers said. However, she was convicted, given the long-established exception to the First Amendment for "speech integral to criminal conduct."
Her case later became the subject of a 2019 HBO documentary, 'I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter.'
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).