Woman Found Guilty For Boyfriend’s Suicide
This week, a court in Massachusetts faced a tough question: can a text message kill someone?
The text messages in question were sent by a young woman, Michelle Carter, to her boyfriend, Conrad Roy. In the chilling messages, Carter encourages Roy to kill himself. She tells Roy that he will be happier when he is dead. In another, she seems to guilt Roy into killing himself, asking why he hasn’t done it yet. And on the night on his death, while Roy was sitting in his truck preparing to die via carbon monoxide position, Carter encouraged him to stay in the vehicle while it filled with the poisonous fumes. Even though she was in contact with Roy at the time of his death, she did not call 911 or alert his family. At the time of his death in 2014, both Roy and Carter were still teenagers.
Death By Text?
In the charges against her, Carter is accused of pressuring Roy to kill himself and failing to seek help. According to accusations, Carter craved attention and wanted to play the role of a grieving girlfriend. The accusations paint Carter as malicious and manipulative. Her defense attorney, on the other hand, argued that Carter was a victim of Roy’s depression. They claim that the stress of her boyfriend’s mental illness hindered her ability to form intent and make decisions. According to the defense, Roy’s decision to kill himself was his own. They say it had nothing to do with Carter.
In the legal community, Michelle Carter’s case created an interesting discourse on wrongful death. If Carter was not actually present, could she still be guilty of killing Roy? Can someone be guilty simply for not seeking help? Were the messages alone enough to hold Carter accountable?
In the end, Carter was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone kills another person in a way that is unlawful but unintentional. Her yet-to-be determined punishment will be anything from probation to prison time. Since Carter was 17 at the time of Roy’s death, she is not being charged as an adult.
An Interesting Precedent
Michelle Carter’s charges set an interesting legal precedent: it is now potentially a crime to tell someone to commit suicide. Some lawyers take issue with this, because they believe that suicide is a personal choice, and an individual’s suicide cannot be another person’s crime. Roy’s suicide, though, shows that influence and pressure can make a huge different, and potentially cause suicide when it could have been prevented.
While this has undoubtedly been a challenging time for Conrad Roy’s family and Michelle Carter herself, it has been a fascinating case to watch, and sets a unique precedent for future cases.
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