On Sunday, July 13, 2014 Conrad Henri Roy III died by suicide at the age of 18 with encouragement from his girlfriend, then-17-year-old Michelle Carter, via text messages. The case was the subject of a notable investigation and involuntary manslaughter trial in Massachusetts, colloquially known as the “texting suicide case“. Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter involved scores of text messages, emails, and phone calls recorded between Carter and Roy in the lead up to the latter’s death. Roy had seen numerous mental health professionals, and he insisted that he wanted to die. Carter and Roy had both been prescribed psychiatric medication. The case raised complex questions pertaining to the nature and limits of criminal responsibility. Judge Moniz inferred that Carter wanted Roy dead and that her words coerced him to kill himself, a position that has been subject to some criticism. Carter was convicted by the judge of involuntary manslaughter, chiefly on the basis of her final phone call in which she ordered Roy, after he had become scared, to go back inside his truck as it filled with lethal carbon monoxide.
Carter and then-16-year-old Conrad Roy met in Florida in 2012 while each had been visiting relatives. After this initial encounter, they saw each other in person again only a handful of times over the course of two years, despite having lived only about 35 miles (56 km) away from each other in the Boston suburbs. Instead, they mostly exchanged text messages and emails.
According to court documents, Roy had allegedly been physically hit by his father and verbally abused by his grandfather, and tried to kill himself in October 2012 while despondent after his parents had divorced. After learning that he was planning to kill himself, Carter repeatedly discouraged him from attempting suicide in 2012 and 2014 and encouraged him to “get professional help”. However, her attitude changed in July 2014, when she started thinking that it would be a “good thing to help him die”. In June, Roy had texted Carter suggesting they act like Romeo and Juliet, checking that she understood they had each killed themselves.
Roy struggled with social anxiety and depression for which he had seen several therapists and counselors, including a cognitive behavioral therapist in the weeks prior to his death. He had been hospitalized for an acetaminophen (paracetamol) overdose at the age of 17; he was talking to a girl he had met in a group and she called the police. He had been taking Celexa for some time. In the United States, citalopram carries a boxed warning stating it may increase suicidal thinking and behavior in those under age 24. In 2016 the judge had refused the defense’s request for funds to hire an expert on Celexa, describing it as ‘speculative’ Videos that Roy made of himself talking to camera formed an important part of the case.
On Sunday, July 13, 2014, following digital exchanges with Carter while interacting with his family, Roy died by suicide by poisoning himself with carbon monoxide fumes in his truck in a Kmart parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
Roy’s funeral was held on Saturday, July 19, 2014, at St. Anthony’s Church in Mattapoisett. The Captain Conrad H. Roy III Scholarship Fund at the Northeast Maritime Institute in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, was established in his memory.
Michelle Carter was indicted on February 4, 2015, and arraigned the following day in New Bedford Juvenile Court in Taunton, Massachusetts on charges of involuntary manslaughter. The grand jury found enough to charge her with “wantonly and recklessly” assisting the suicide. She was 17 at the time and the court indicted her as a ‘youthful offender’ rather than a ‘juvenile’, meaning she could be sentenced as an adult.
On Monday, June 5, 2017, the day before the trial was scheduled to begin, Carter waived her right to jury trial. Therefore, the case was heard by Judge Lawrence Moniz in the Bristol County Juvenile Court of Massachusetts, in Taunton. Carter was represented by Joseph P. Cataldo and Cory Madera. As there was limited legal precedent for prosecuting the encouragement of suicide, Cataldo initially asked a Taunton Juvenile Court judge for summary dismissal, arguing that Carter’s texts were protected under the First Amendment and that the text history showed that Roy had been contemplating suicide without Carter’s input. The judge declined this motion.
On June 16, 2017, Judge Lawrence Moniz of the Bristol County Juvenile Court of Massachusetts in Taunton found Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He stated prior to his ruling that it was Carter’s phone calls with Roy when he was in his truck gassing himself (as described by Carter’s texts to friends), rather than the preceding text messages, that caused him to go through with killing himself. Judge Moniz found that Roy had broken the “chain of self-causation” towards his suicide when he exited the truck and that it was Carter’s wanton and reckless encouragement to then return to the truck that caused his death.
After the guilty verdict Roy’s father stated publicly that the family were pleased with the verdict but that they wanted privacy and time to process the events they have experienced; Lynn Roy appeared on the CBS 48 Hours show, saying she didn’t believe Carter had a conscience and that she knew exactly what she was doing.
Carter remained free on bail pending her sentencing. On August 3, 2017, Judge Lawrence Moniz sentenced Carter to serve a two-and-a-half-year term, with 15 months to be served in the Bristol County House of Corrections, the rest of the balance suspended, and five years of probation to be served. Soon after the sentencing was handed down, Carter’s lawyers asked Judge Moniz to issue a stay of the sentence until all of Carter’s Massachusetts court appeals options are exhausted. Judge Moniz granted the stay with conditions that Carter stay away from the Roy family.
On February 6, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Carter acted with criminal intent when she encouraged Roy into suicide, so her involuntary manslaughter conviction was ordered to stand and that Carter’s 15-month prison sentence would be enforced in the near future. The rest of the 2½-year sentence was suspended, followed by five years of probation.
Under order from a Massachusettes judge, Carter begin serving her 15 month sentence on February 11, 2019. Carter had requested a parole hearing for early release, but the parole board denied the request on September 20, 2019.
Now we have just been told, without even finishing an entire year of her sentence Carter will be released from Bristol County Jail on January 23rd 2020. What she did only a sociopath could or would do, who’s to say she won’t do it again? I say we should’ve locked her up and thrown the damn key away, maybe save the next poor guy who may come in contact with her.
She is scheduled to be released Thursday, TOMORROW during jail business hours — between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.