Teen Encouraged her Friend’s Suicide: What Legal Price Will She Pay?
It has been just over a year since Massachusetts teen Conrad Roy III was found dead inside his truck behind a Fairhaven K-Mart parking lot–the victim of suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, and the case is just starting to ramp up against the girl police say pressured him to do it.
Michelle Carter, 18, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a lengthy police investigation concluded that she had “strongly influenced” Roy’s decision to take his own life. Now text messages recently released by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office are showing just how persistent Carter was.
— Nicole Williams (@NcoleWilliams) August 25, 2015
According to the indictment, sometime in 2012 Roy–who had a history of mental illness–met Carter and they formed an online romantic relationship “consisting mostly of online and cellphone communication.” The pair apparently had only met twice, but they sent each other thousands of messages over the past two years.
Then between July 6 and July 12, after Roy expressed plans to kill himself, Carter proceeded to council him to overcome his doubts.
Carter’s texts can be read in their entirety here, but below are some of the horrible things she said to Roy that later resulted in him commiting suicide.
[D]on’t be scared. You already made this decision and if you don’t do it tonight you’re gonna be thinking abut it all the time and stuff all the rest of your life and be miserable.
It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die. I would be concerned if you weren’t scared, but I know how bad you want this and how bad you want to be happy. You have to face your fears for what you want.
Everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on.
You have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.
When Roy discussed siphoning carbon monoxide to his truck she responded,
But I bet you’re gonna be like ‘oh, it didn’t work because I didn’t tape the tube right or something like that. I bet you’re gonna say an excuse like that…you seem to always an have excuse.
After she helped devise the plan to run a combustion engine within his truck in order to poison himself with carbon monoxide, she told him that if carbon monoxide poisoning didn’t work he should “try the bag or hanging.”
Then on July 13, 2014, after taking his sisters out for ice cream earlier in the day, Roy finally followed through with his plan–but not without some coaching first. Police reported that when he felt the carbon monoxide beginning to work he felt frightened and exited the car to call Carter. The pair had a 47 minute long conversation during which Carter is said to have coaxed him to get back in the truck.
The details of Roy’s death are chilling, but is it actually a crime to encourage someone to commit suicide? Carter’s lawyers are attempting to argue no. They say that she was within her First Amendment rights when she urged Roy, and that she was “brainwahsed” to help him. We’ll have to wait and see how the judge responds, but prosecutors are already to countered saying her attempt to cover her tracks and request for Roy to delete their messages is proof of a crime.