BOSTON (AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts will hear the appeal of a young woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter for sending her suicidal boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself when they were both teenagers.
The Supreme Judicial Court told attorneys Wednesday it will weigh in on the case of Michelle Carter, who was sentenced last year to 15 months in jail for the 2014 death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. Carter was 17 when Roy was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck.
Carter was allowed to remain out of jail until her appeals in state courts are exhausted.
Carter’s attorneys contend the case will set precedent “for who may be prosecuted for encouraging suicide with words alone.”
“Carter is the first defendant to have been convicted of killing a person who took his own life, even though she neither provided the fatal means nor was present when the suicide occurred,” her lawyers said in court documents. “Nothing in Massachusetts law made clear to 17-year-old Carter, or anyone else, that such circumstances could constitute involuntary manslaughter,” they said.
The judge who convicted Carter she showed “wanton and reckless conduct” under the manslaughter statute when she told Roy to “get back in” after he climbed out of his truck as it was filling with carbon monoxide and told her he was afraid.
Carter’s lawyer argued at trial that Carter had initially tried to talk Roy out of it and encouraged him to get help. Her attorney said Roy was determined to kill himself and nothing Carter did could change that.