Woman sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for text messages urging boyfriend to kill himself
Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz in Bristol County ruled Thursday that Michelle Carter, 20, serve two and a half years in jail, but stated only 15 months will be mandatory. Moniz previously ruled in June that Carter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter for telling her boyfriend Conrad Roy III, to kill himself. Roy committed suicide at the age of 18 in July 2014.
Carter’s lawyer, Joseph P. Cataldo, successfully petitioned to have the sentence stayed, which means Carter will not go to jail until her state appeals are exhausted. The judge ordered that Carter remain free on bail for now, but that she have no contact with the Roy family.
If Carter’s sentence isn’t overturned on appeal, it will begin on August 22, 2022, when she will serve at least the mandatory 15 months, according to Buzzfeed.
Carter was 17 years old at the time when Roy was discovered dead in his Ford F-150 pickup truck in a parking lot near Boston.
One of Carter’s more straightforward text messages to Roy urging him to end his life was used as evidence in the case.
"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, NBC News reported.
Carter tried to tell Roy in another text message how much better it would be if he committed suicide. "You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die," according to NBC News.
During a 47-minute call with Carter shortly before his death, Roy exited his truck because the carbon monoxide was “working and he got scared.” Carter “f----- told him to get back in,” during the call, according to court documents. It was this specifically, Moniz said, that led him to find Carter guilty.
Moniz continued with his reasoning for the guilty verdict. He elaborated that Carter became responsible when she told Roy to re-enter the vehicle because she knew the man was entering into "a toxic environment inconsistent with human life," NBC News reported.
ACLU: the conviction 'violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and US Constitutions' https://t.co/QcNPQsVbaK— RT America (@RT_America) June 16, 2017
Further, Moniz said Carter did not contact Roy’s family when she knew his location before his death, and had a responsibility to do something to stop a life-threatening risk.
Written statements from family members of both parties involved in the case were delivered to the judge outlining how they felt about Carter.
"I don’t believe she can be helped. I don’t believe she could even give one single f--- about what she’s done," Roy’s aunt, Kim Bozzi said in a written statement to Moniz on Thursday. "I believe she should be kept far away from society,”according to NBC News.
Carter’s father pleaded with the judge to understand that Carter was a troubled teenager at the time and wanted a lenient sentence for the woman.
"I pray to God you will take into consideration that Michelle was a troubled, vulnerable teenager in an extremely difficult situation and made a tragic mistake," David Carter wrote in a statement to Moniz. "I am 100% sure she was only trying to do what in her mind what was right for Conrad," NBC News reported.
The defense argued that Carter was not of sound mind when she perpetrated the acts against Roy. They stated the teen was on the drug Celexa at the time of the suicide. Celexa is prescribed to treat depression that can have side effects, including irrational thinking, irritability and poor impulse control.
Prosecutors argued that days before Roy took his life, Carter went through with a “dry run,” telling classmates that Roy was “missing” even though she was in contact with him throughout those days.
“She begins to get the attention she craved for,” assistant district attorney Maryclare Flynn said of Carter’s messages to her classmates, according to NBC News.
Months after Roy’s death, Carter began to panic when authorities set out to investigate the suicide and she realized the police would read her texts. “I just got off the phone with Conrad’s mom, and she told me … [police] have to go through his phone and see if anyone encouraged him to do it on texts and stuff. Sam, they read my messages with him I'm done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail,” Carter wrote to a friend in a message.