Woman be­gins prison sen­tence in ’14 death

Case high­lighted is­sue of teen de­pres­sion; le­gal fight not over

The Dallas Morning News - - Nation - By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER

TAUNTON, Mass. — A Mas­sachusetts woman who sent her sui­ci­dal boyfriend a bar­rage of text mes­sages urg­ing him to kill him­self was jailed Mon­day on an in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter con­vic­tion nearly five years af­ter he died in a truck filled with toxic gas.

Michelle Carter was sen­tenced to 15 months in jail in 2017 for her role in the death of Con­rad Roy III, but the judge al­lowed her to re­main free while she ap­pealed in state court. Mas­sachusetts’ high­est court up­held her con­vic­tion last week, say­ing her ac­tions caused Roy’s death.

A lawyer for Carter had ar­gued the 22year­old should stay out of jail while her de­fense team takes her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her at­tor­neys said in court doc­u­ments that she has no prior crim­i­nal record, hasn’t tried to flee, and has been re­ceiv­ing men­tal health treat­ment.

But a judge ruled Mon­day that she should start her sen­tence. Ear­lier in the day, Mas­sachusetts’ high­est court de­nied an emer­gency mo­tion filed by her lawyers to keep her out of jail.

Carter showed no dis­cernible emo­tion as she was taken into cus­tody, though her shoul­ders sagged as she stood and pre­pared to be led away.

Roy’s aunt ex­pressed re­lief Mon­day, say­ing his fam­ily be­lieves jus­tice had been served even though the case had been a long and dif­fi­cult or­deal for them.

“We hope that no one else ever has to feel this pain,” Becky Maki said. “His life mat­tered.”

An at­tor­ney for Carter vowed to con­tinue to ap­peal.

Carter was 17 when Roy, 18, took his own life in July 2014. Her case gar­nered in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and pro­vided a dis­turb­ing look at teenage de­pres­sion and sui­cide.

Carter and Roy both strug­gled with de­pres­sion, and Roy had pre­vi­ously tried to kill him­self. Their re­la­tion­ship con­sisted mostly of tex­ting and other elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

In dozens of text mes­sages re­vealed dur­ing her sen­sa­tional trial, Carter pushed Roy to end his life and chas­tised him when he hes­i­tated. As Roy made ex­cuses to put off his plans, her texts be­came more in­sis­tent.

“You keep push­ing it off and say you’ll do it but u never do. It’s al­ways gonna be that way if u don’t take ac­tion,” Carter texted him he on the day he died.

But the ju­ve­nile court judge fo­cused his guilty ver­dict on the fact that Carter told Roy over the phone to get back in his truck when it was fill­ing with car­bon monox­ide. The judge said Carter had a duty to call the po­lice or Roy’s fam­ily, but in­stead lis­tened on the phone as he died.

Mark Stockwell/the As­so­ci­ated Press

Michelle Carter, 22, shown in court on Mon­day, was con­victed in 2017 of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and sen­tenced to a 15­month prison term for en­cour­ag­ing 18­year­old Con­rad Roy III to kill him­self. She had in­structed him over the phone to get back in his pickup as it filled with car­bon monox­ide in July 2014.

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