With so much noise and attention on impeachment, many completely missed that the Supreme Court rejected to take on arguably one of the most controversial and followed cases in recent years.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who sent her boyfriend text messages urging him to kill himself.
Michelle Carter is serving a 15-month sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III.
A judge determined that Carter, who was 17-years-old at the time, caused the death of 18-year-old Roy when she ordered him in a phone call to get back in his carbon monoxide-filled truck that he had parked in a K-Mart parking lot.
The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent her friend in which she said she told Roy to get back in.
In text messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death, Carter also encouraged Roy to follow through with his suicide plan, and then chastised him when he either stalled or spoke about changing his mind.
The court declined to decide whether her involuntary manslaughter conviction violated the First Amendment guarantee of free speech because it was based solely on words that she texted or spoke.
Supreme Court rejects Michelle Carter's appeal over boyfriend suicide conviction https://t.co/yJRVk8TBL4
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) January 13, 2020
Michelle Carter's involuntary manslaughter conviction will stand, the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court ruled. These are the texts at the heart of the case, where she cajoled Conrad Roy III to hill himself. https://t.co/Qe7JhTxdQJ
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) February 6, 2019
Here’s more from NBC News on the case:
Carter’s case has garnered national attention and sparked legislative proposals in Massachusetts to criminalize suicide coercion.
The Carter case attracted worldwide attention and was the subject of a 2019 HBO documentary, “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter.”
In July 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III of Massachusetts parked his truck and filled it with carbon monoxide, killing himself after several failed suicide attempts.
Evidence at her trial showed that Carter, who was 50 miles away in Plainville, sent text messages in the days leading up to the suicide, encouraging him to go ahead with his plan, and spoke to him twice on the phone the day he took his own life.
She later told a friend that he became frightened at one point and climbed out of the truck, but that she told him on the phone to get back in. The trial judge said that statement and her failure to call 911 or summon help were key facts supporting her conviction.
Carter’s lawyers told the Supreme Court that she could not be convicted based solely on the words she texted or spoke — or failed to text or speak.
“Carter neither provided Roy with the means of his death nor physically participated in his suicide,” the lawyers said. They added that the Massachusetts courts provided no guidance on how to determine when a person’s words cross the line and become criminal conduct.
Prosecutors said that after at first trying to discourage him from suicide, Carter began a systematic campaign of coercion, preying on Roy’s insecurities.
She taunted him that he would purposely fail again to kill himself, repeatedly urging him “just to do it” and that “the time (was) right.”
Her conviction, the state said, was consistent with a long established exception to the First Amendment for “speech integral to criminal conduct.”