Teen found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging suicide

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On Friday, Michelle Carter, the teenager who sent a hoard of text messages to her friend urging him to kill himself, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Judge Lawrence Moniz handed down the sentence in the nonjury finding, and what’s most interesting about this case is that it hinges on the rare legal finding that her words alone were able to directly cause Conrad Roy III to kill himself.

Carter now faces up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced on Aug. 3.

Three years ago, in July of 2014, Roy hooked up a hose to his truck that pumped carbon monoxide into the cab. Carter had allegedly encouraged him to kill himself, and while she was gone, Roy tried to do just that. When he became sick because of the fumes, he stepped out of the truck, at which point Carter reportedly ordered him to “get back in.”

Although suicide is generally legally considered to be the result of the victim’s own free will, the judge found that Carter was guilty for knowing that Roy was in a toxic situation and not making a move to save him.

“She admits in subsequent texts that she did nothing, she did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family,” Judge Moniz said. “And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ‘Get out of the truck.’”

However, while the judge admitted that Roy’s actions such as researching suicide methods had shown that he was committing suicide of his own free will, the fact that Roy got out of the truck put some of the blame on Carter, even if she was not directly the cause of his death.

“He breaks that chain of self-causation by exiting the vehicle,” Judge Moniz said. “He takes himself out of that toxic environment that it has become.”

“She instructed Mr. Roy to get back into the truck, well knowing his ambiguities, his fears, his concerns. This court finds that instructing Mr. Roy to get back in the truck constituted wanton and reckless conduct, by Ms. Carter creating a situation where there is a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to Mr. Roy.”