It’s a surprising outcome, but the verdict is set: 18-year-old Michelle Carter was pronounced guilty June 16 by a judge in a nonjury trial, according to The New York Times.
Three years ago, Conrad Roy III was found in his pickup truck, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. But if no one was there, how could Carter be responsible?
According to South Coast Today, texts were shared between Carter and Roy on the days leading up to, and the day of, his suicide. The case became an issue of whether Roy would have killed himself if Carter hadn’t been in communication with him.
Take a look at some of the shocking text messages sent during their conversation, reported by Cosmopolitan in 2015.
“So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined,” Carter said.
“I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up,” Roy replied.
Carter insists, saying, “No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off.” She then explains to Roy where he should take his truck and what time is best, when no one is really around.
Defense lawyer Joseph Cataldo said that Roy was determined to take his own life, as he had tried and failed to kill himself two years earlier. He believes that the prosecution was trying to “apply manslaughter to speech,” which seems like a hard concept to prove. However, prosecutor Katie Rayburn makes an important point about this tragic incident. She says Carter participated in the suicide by sending Roy texts right before he took his life, and being on the phone with him when he died.
Legal experts told The New York Times that the verdict is a surprise, since Massachusetts has no law against encouraging suicide. Daniel S. Medwed, a law professor at Northeastern University said that the verdict sends a strong message that “using technology to bully people into committing suicide will not be tolerated.”
There may be no law against encouraging suicide, but the lengths that Carter went to are destructive and now considered deadly. When someone feels like they have no way out, words like these force them into painful situations that no one deserves to be in. Carter is expected to be sentenced Aug. 3.