Some of you may know the name Michelle Carter, the young woman who encouraged her boyfriend to kill himself. She did so through through various texts and phone calls. Carter asked for an appeal, to which The Supreme Court said Monday it would not take up the appeal. The court’s refusal to take the case leaves her conviction as is.
Back in September, a Massachusetts parole board denied Carter, now 22, early release. Carter began a 15-month prison sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in February of 2017. This was Carter’s attempt to lessen her sentence again, but to no avail. Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, called the Supreme Court’s decision to not take up the appeal “unfortunate.”
For those of you who may not know the story behind Carter and the suicide, here’s a brief. The two individuals were teenagers in 2014 during their relationship. This relationship consisted mostly over the phone and text, which also happened to focus largely on the fact that 18-year-old Conrad Roy was suicidal. He had frequent suicide attempts prior but Michelle Carter, 17, urged him forward. Roy parked his truck and filled it with carbon monoxide, killing himself after the several failed attempts.
During Carter’s trial, there was evidence that showed Carter, who was 50 miles away in her hometown, Plainville, sent text messages in the days leading up to the suicide. These messages were encouraging him to go ahead with his plan, and spoke to him twice on the phone the day he took his life.
She told a friend that Roy became frightened at one point and climbed out of the truck, in which he called Carter coughing and explaining this to her. She told him on the phone to get back in the truck. The trial judge said that statement along with her failure to call 911 or summon help were key facts supporting her conviction.
Two state courts ruled that Carter engaged in reckless conduct. They said her speech was not protected under the Constitution because it was “integral to unlawful conduct.” She originally received a 30-month jail sentence, however half was suspended. This 15-month sentence along with five years of probation is Carter’s sentence.
Her lawyers said the conviction was based “on her words alone,” and she did not participate directly in Roy’s suicide. “Carter neither provided Roy with the means of his death nor physically participated in his suicide,” the lawyers said.
“Clearly many legal scholars and many in the legal community understand the dangers created by the unprecedented decisions of the Massachusetts courts,” Carter’s lawyer said in an emailed statement. “To that end we will be weighing our next steps in correcting this injustice.”
Carter’s case reentered the public eye last year when HBO released a two-part documentary, “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter.”