Michelle Carter, Convicted for Encouraging Boyfriend’s Suicide, Reports to Prison
In 2017, a teen girl was accused of pressuring her boyfriend to commit suicide … and he went through with it.
She stood trial for his death in the controversial case, and was sentenced to prison.
Now, Michelle Carter is finally heading to prison.
On Monday, a Massachusetts judge ordered Michelle Carter to report to prison.
She is to begin serving out her sentence, which was handed down to her about a year and a half ago.
Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz sentenced Michelle Carter to a minimum of 15 months in prison.
She was, however, permitted to remain free while she appealed her conviction.
But now the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has upheld that conviction.
The finding of the court was that the evidence in the case demonstrated that she was culpable for the death of Conrad Roy III.
Michelle was 17 when her then-boyfriend, Conrad, took his own life in 2014.
The case was framed around a series of text messages that she had sent to him.
Prosecutors argued that her text messages were clearly encouraging him to commit suicide.
At times, it even seemed that Michelle was more enthusiastic about his suicide than he was, pushing him to work past his reluctance.
Clearly, the jury and now a series of judges have all agreed.
Conrad died from inhaling carbon monoxide fumes from his truck.
Michelle was then accused of having listened over the phone as he died, and of then not notifying his parents or police.
The issue, however, was whether or not she pushed a vulnerable man who was already battling with suicidal ideation to take his own life.
(At times, she even chastised him over his apparent indecision, and downplayed how sad others would be with him gone)
Michelle’s attorneys argued that, as vile as her words to him were, they constitute protected speech under the First Amendment.
Attorney Daniel Marx lamented the court’s ruling.
“Today’s decision stretches the law to assign blame for a tragedy that was not a crime,” Marx says.
“It has very troubling implications, for free speech, due process, and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that should concern us all,” he states.
Of course, the Supreme Court has long upheld that there are certain, reasonable restrictions to Free Speech.
Conspiracy to commit a crime is not protected speech.
Inciting a person or group to commit an act of violence is not protected speech.
While people can make their (logically flawed) slippery slope arguments, a teenage boy lost his life.
And, given that he was already experiencing suicidal ideation, he was particularly vulnerable to this exact type of influence.
Some people may view suicide as a personal choice, rather than as a terminal symptom of mental illness.
Suicide is not the same thing as medically assisted euthanasia for people who are already dying.
Those of us who are not at risk for suicide can view “kill yourself” messages as, at worst, hurtful, no matter their origins.
That was not the case for Conrad Roy III.
One could liken verbal pushes to commit suicide from someone so close to him to exposing peanuts to someone with a peanut allergy.
Just because the rest of us would go unaffected doesn’t make it any less deadly for the victim.
Clearly, that was also what the court decided.