TAUNTON, Mass. - A Massachusetts judge ruled Friday morning a young woman is guilty of involuntary manslaughter after she sent her boyfriend text messages urging him to commit suicide.
Conrad Roy III died of carbon monoxide inhalation in his pickup truck outside a KMart. Records show a lengthy text message history between Roy and his girlfriend Michelle Carter, in which Carter repeatedly urges him to commit suicide.
Carter and Roy, who had attempted suicide multiple times in the past, both struggled with psychiatric problems.
In the days and hours leading up to Roy’s suicide, Carter repeatedly sent Roy messages saying, “you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did last time and not think about it and just do it babe.”
In her defense, attorney Joseph Cataldo told Judge Lawrence Moniz she believed she was helping Roy and couldn’t be held responsible for his death as she was operating in a fog created by medication.
Carter’s defense team brought in psychiatrist Peter Breggin to testify her medication, Celexa, had intoxicated her to the point she believed she was doing what was right.
But prosecutors argued Carter knew exactly what she was doing and portrayed her as someone craving the attention. In her closing statement, Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn said Carter wanted to be seen as the grieving girlfriend.
Carter waived her right to a jury trial, so her fate was decided by Judge Moniz, who spent two days deliberating before announcing Thursday he would issue his verdict Friday morning.
Judge Moniz cited case law precedents in finding Carter should be held responsible for Roy's death.
The case could have implications in future cases involving suicide or cyberbullying. In 2012, a Rutgers student was convicted on charges relating to his roommate’s suicide after he had been filmed in a romantic encounter with another man. But that case was thrown out on appeal.
Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
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