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Heartbroken mother of teen who killed himself after being encouraged by his ex-girlfriend speaks out after she is convicted of manslaughter
A woman who encouraged her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself in dozens of text messages and told him to “get back in” a truck filled with toxic gas was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in jail for involuntary manslaughter.
Michelle Carter, now 20, was convicted in June by a judge who said her final instruction to Conrad Roy III caused his death. Carter was 17 when the 18-year-old Roy was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in July 2014.
Michelle Carter (left) allegedly texted back-and-forth with Conrad Roy III
Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz gave Carter a 2½-year jail sentence but said she had to serve only 15 months of that. He also sentenced her to five years of probation. He granted a defense motion that would keep Carter out of jail until her appeals in Massachusetts courts are exhausted.
The judge called the case, which has garnered international attention, “a tragedy for two families.”
Carter’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, had asked the judge to spare his client any jail time and instead give her five years of probation and require her to receive mental health counseling. He said Carter was struggling with mental health issues of her own — bulimia, anorexia and depression — during the time she urged Roy to kill himself.
“Miss Carter will have to live with the consequences of this for the rest of her life,” Cataldo said. “This was a horrible circumstance that she completely regrets.”
Prosecutor Maryclare Flynn called probation “just not reasonable punishment” for her role in Roy’s death. The prosecution sought the maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
In dozens of text messages, Carter had urged Roy to follow through on his talk of taking his own life. “The time is right and you are ready ... just do it babe,” Carter wrote in a text the day he killed himself.
The sensational trial was closely watched on social media, in part because of the insistent tone of Carter’s text messages.
“You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t,” Carter wrote in one text.
Cataldo argued that Roy was determined to kill himself and nothing Carter did could change that. He said Carter initially tried to talk Roy out of it and urged him to get professional help, but eventually went along with his plan. Cataldo also argued that Carter’s words amounted to free speech protected by the First Amendment.
In convicting Carter, the judge focused his ruling on Carter telling Roy to “get back in” after he climbed out of his truck as it was filling with carbon monoxide and told her he was afraid.
The judge said those words constituted “wanton and reckless conduct” under the manslaughter statute.
Roy’s family told the court Thursday that they were devastated by his death.
Conrad Roy Jr. said it inflicted the “worst emotional pain” he has ever experienced.
“I am heartbroken,” the father said.
A 13-year-old sister, Camden Roy, testified that she’s “haunted” by the realization that she’ll never see her brother wed or be an aunt to his children.
Carter and Roy met in Florida in 2012 while both were on vacation with their families. After that, they only met in person a handful of times. Their relationship consisted mainly of texting.
Carter was tried as a youthful offender, so the judge had several options for sentencing. He could have committed her to a Department of Youth Services facility until she turns 21 on Aug. 11. He could also have combined a DYS commitment with an adult sentence, or could have given her an adult sentence of anything from probation to the maximum 20-year term.
Michelle Carter, 20, broke down as Judge Lawrence Moniz explained his reasoning Friday in Bristol Juvenile Court in Massachusetts
Roy Conrad (left) was 18 he was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup truck. Lynn Conrad (right) Roy's mother, speaking out Friday night on CBS' 48 Hours about her son being encouraged to commit suicide by his then girlfriend Michelle Carter
Roy's parents, Lynn (left) and Conrad II (right) were pictured leaving the court on Friday after Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter
Conrad Roy's mother Lynn (dressed in white) teared up as she listened to the judge's verdict Friday
Roy's father, Conrad Roy Jr., gave a brief statement following the verdict to thank police and prosecutors. He said his family wanted time to process the guilty verdict
Roy's father, Conrad Roy Jr, gave a brief statement after Friday's conviction of Carter: 'This has been a very tough time for our family and we'd like to process this verdict that we're happy with.'
The younger Roy, who had struggled with anxiety and depression and attempted suicide before, was found dead in his pickup truck on July 13, 2014. He poisoned himself with carbon monoxide.
Carter, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Friday, sent Roy a barrage of text messages encouraging him to kill himself.
The 20-year-old broke down as the Massachusetts judge ruled on Friday in Bristol Juvenile Court that she caused the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III.
She now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Carter was 17 when she sent Roy dozens of messages urging him to take his own life. Roy was found dead after filling his truck with carbon monoxide in a parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts on July 12, 2014.
Judge Lawrence Moniz called Carter's actions 'reckless' as he read out the reasoning behind his verdict on Friday.
He described how Roy had climbed out of the truck as it was filling with toxic gas and told Carter he was scared, but she urged him to get back in.
'She did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck,' the judge said.
He said Carter had a duty to call someone for help when she knew Roy was attempting suicide. Yet she did not call the police or Roy's family.
Carter, 20, broke down as Judge Lawrence Moniz explained his reasoning Friday in Bristol Juvenile Court in Massachusetts
Michelle Carter, 20, was found guilty on Friday of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of Conrad Roy III after she sent him a barrage of texts encouraging him to kill himself
Michelle Carter's parents, Gail and David, listen to Judge Lawrence Moniz before he announces his verdict on Friday
It was apparent from evidence that Roy was struggling with his issues and trying to find a way to deal with them, the judge said.
'His research was extensive. He spoke of it continually. He secured the generator, he secured the water pump. He located his vehicle in an unnoticeable area. He commenced his attempt by starting the pump,' the judge said.
'When Ms Carter realizes Mr Roy had exited the truck, she instructs him to get back in the truck, which she has reason to know is becoming a toxic environment.'
The judge said Carter's instructions constituted 'wanton and reckless conduct'.
Sobs broke out in the courtroom when the judge announced the guilty verdict. The judge ruled that Carter can remain free on bail until her sentencing on August 3.
The judge described Carter's actions as reckless and noted that she admitted in text messages to taking no action, even though she knew the location of the truck Roy killed himself in
A tearful Carter was hugged by her attorney Joseph Cataldo as they listened to the judge before he found her guilty of manslaughter
Carter has been prevented from texting and using Facebook or Snapchat ahead of her sentencing. She was also ordered not to have any contact with Roy's family.
The sensational trial raised questions of whether words can kill and offered a window into teen depression and suicide through text messages and Facebook communications.
Prosecutors had argued during the high-profile trial that a then teenage Carter pressured Roy to take his own life through a torrent of text messages.
'I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you're ready, you just need to do it. You can't keep living this way,' Carter wrote in one message.
'Everyone will be sad for a while, but they will get over it and move on. They won't be in depression I won't let that happen.'
During the trial, prosecutors said she told Roy to 'get back in' his truck when he became frightened while trying to kill himself with carbon monoxide.
Carter, pictured arriving in court on Friday, broke down as Judge Lawrence Moniz explained his reasoning Friday in Bristol Juvenile Court in Massachusetts
Carter was checked through security when she entered the courthouse on Friday morning
Carter's lawyer argued that Roy had attempted suicide previously and made his own decision to take his life. He also said that she initially tried to talk him out of it.
The judge disagreed on Friday, saying he did not take into account in his verdict Roy's previous attempts at suicide.
An involuntary manslaughter charge can be brought in Massachusetts when someone causes the death of another person when engaging in reckless or wanton conduct that creates a high degree of likelihood of substantial harm.
Roy's handwritten suicide note was shown in court on Tuesday as prosecutors delivered their closing arguments. In the note addressed to Carter, Roy had thanked her for her 'effort and kindness'.
Prosecutors had argued during the high-profile trial that a then-17-year-old Carter pressured Roy, 18, (above) to take his own life through a torrent of text messages
'I love you and greatly appreciate ur effort and kindness towards me,' Roy wrote in a handwritten note in a spiral notebook. 'I'll forever be in your heart and we will meet up someday in Heaven.'
The court also released Roy's suicide note to his father, in which he expressed his love and his feelings of inadequacy.
'I'm sorry I wasn't the boy you wanted. I can't take the pain,' Roy wrote. 'I did this to finally be happy.'
On Monday, psychiatrist Dr Peter Breggin testified for the defense saying that Carter was a 'very troubled youngster' who suffered from depression.
At the time of Roy's death, Carter was taking Celexa, an antidepressant Breggin said targets the brain's frontal lobe, which controls empathy and decision-making.
Text messages, displayed in court, revealed Carter had pushed her boyfriend to kill himself, telling him 'it's time to do it today'
Roy's suicide note addressed to Carter was introduced into evidence. Roy had thanked her for her 'effort and kindness'
A photograph of the truck in which Conrad Roy III killed himself is projected during testimony in the trial
Breggin said Roy talked about how he wanted to kill himself with a younger and emotionally troubled Carter. He said Carter eventually endorsed Roy's wishes.
The psychiatrist said he reviewed all the text messages and Facebook conversations between Carter and Roy. He said that beginning in 2012, Roy told Carter he wanted to kill himself and said there was nothing she could do to stop him.
'He goes on and on for hours and hours, and pages and pages,' Breggin said of Roy's communications with Carter about killing himself at a time when Breggin says Carter is 'a little girl' overwhelmed by her boyfriend's unceasing focus on suicide.
Here are a series of texts between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy that were shown to the court. They appear here chronologically:
June 19, 2014:
Carter: 'But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don't think it would but I'm telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life'
Carter: 'Part of me wants you to try something and fail just so you can go get help'
Roy: 'It doesn't help. Trust me'
Carter: 'So what are you gonna do then? Keep being all talk and no action and everyday go thru saying how badly you wanna kill yourself? Or are you gonna try to get better?'
Roy: 'I can't get better I already made my decision.'
June 23, 2014:
Carter: 'How do you want to harm yourself'
Roy: 'Something idkk yet'
Carter: 'Please don't'
Roy: 'I hate myself I'll always hate myself, I'm never gonna view myself as good I'm so far behind'
Carter: 'What is harming yourself gonna do!? Nothing! It will make it worse!'
Roy: 'Make the pain go away like you said'
Carter: 'It will make the pain go away temporarily, but when you're done, you'll just regret it and feel even worse!'
July 7, 2014:
Roy: 'If you were in my position. honestly what would you do'
Carter: 'I would get help. That's just me tho. When I have a serious problem like that my first instinct is to get help because I know I can't do it on my own'
Later that day, they talk about how he could make carbon monoxide (CO) in order to suffocate to death
Carter: 'Well there's more ways to make CO. Google ways to make it. . . '
Roy: 'portable generator that's it'
July 8, 2014:
Carter: 'So are you sure you don't wanna [kill yourself] tonight?'
Roy: 'What do you mean am I sure?'
Carter: 'Like, are you definitely not doing it tonight?'
Roy: 'Idk yet I'll let you know'
Carter: 'Because I'll stay up with you if you wanna do it tonight'
Roy: 'Another day wouldn't hurt'
Carter: 'You can't keep pushing it off, tho, that's all you keep doing'
July 11, 2014:
After Roy suggests putting a generator in the truck to make CO rather than a water pump:
Carter: '...Well in my opinion, I think u should do the generator because I don't know much about the pump and with a generator u can't fail'
July 4-12, 2014:
The following was sent over a nine-day span. The *** symbols show a gap in communications between the two.
Carter: 'You're gonna have to prove me wrong because I just don't think you really want this. You just keeps pushing it off to another night and say you'll do it but you never do'
Carter: 'SEE THAT'S WHAT I MEAN. YOU KEEP PUSHING IT OFF! You just said you were gonna do it tonight and now you're saying eventually...'
Carter: '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'
Carter: 'Do you have the generator?'
Roy: 'not yet lol'
Carter: 'WELL WHEN ARE YOU GETTING IT'
Carter: 'You better not be bulls***ing me and saying you're gonna do this and then purposely get caught'
July 11-12, 2014:
Again, *** shows a gap in communications
Roy: 'I'm just to sensitive. I want my family to know there was nothing they could do. I am entrapped in my own thoughts'
Roy: 'like no I would be happy if they had no guilt about it. because I have a bad feeling tht this is going to create a lot of depression between my parents/sisters'
Roy: 'i'm overthinking everything. . f**k. I gotta stop and just do it'
Carter: 'I think your parents know you're in a really bad place. Im not saying they want you to do it, but I honestly feel like they can accept it. They know there's nothing they can do, they've tried helping, everyone's tried. But there's a point that comes where there isn't anything anyone can do to save you, not even yourself, and you've hit that point and I think your parents know you've hit that point. You said you're mom saw a suicide thing on your computer and she didn't say anything. I think she knows it's on your mind and she's prepared for it'
Carter: 'Everyone will be sad for a while, but they will get over it and move on. They won't be in depression I won't let that happen. They know how sad you are and they know that you're doing this to be happy, and I think they will understand and accept it. They'll always carry u in their hearts'
Roy: 'i don't want anyone hurt in the process though'
Roy: 'I meant when they open the door, all the carbon monoxide is gonna come out they can't see it or smell it. whoever opens the door'
Carter: 'They will see the generator and know that you died of CO. . . .'
Roy: 'hey can you do me a favor'
Carter: 'Yes of course'
Roy: 'just be there for my family :)'
Carter: 'Conrad, of course I will be there for your family. I will help them as much as I can to get thru this, ill tell them about how amazing their son/brother truly was'
Roy: 'Idk I'm freaking out again'
Roy: I'm overthinking'
Carter: 'I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you're ready, you just need to do it! You can't keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did last time and not think about it and just do it babe. You can't keep doing this every day'
Roy: 'I do want to. but like I'm freaking for my family. I guess'
Carter: 'Conrad. I told you I'll take care of them. Everyone will take care of them to make sure they won't be alone and people will help them get thru it. We talked about this, they will be okay and accept it. People who commit suicide don't think this much and they just do it'
July 12, 2014:
In these exchanges on the day before his body was found, Roy expresses more hesitation about his plan.
Carter: 'So I guess you aren't gonna do it then, all that for nothing'
Carter: 'I'm just confused like you were so ready and determined'
Roy: 'I am gonna eventually'
Roy: 'I really don't know what I'm waiting for. . but I have everything lined up'
Carter: 'No, you're not, Conrad. Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you'll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don't take action'
Carter: 'You're just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it'
Carter: 'Do u wanna do it now?'
Roy: 'Is it too late?'
Roy: 'Idkk it's already light outside'
Roy: I'm gonna go back to sleep, love you I'll text you tomorrow'
Carter: 'No? Its probably the best time now because everyone's sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck. And no one's really out right now because it's an awkward time'
Carter: 'If u don't do it now you're never gonna do it'
Carter: 'And u can say you'll do it tomorrow but you probably won't'
Carter: 'You just need to do it Conrad or I'm gonna get you help'
Carter: 'You can't keep doing this everyday'
Roy: 'Okay I'm gonna do it today'
Carter: 'Do you promise'
Roy: 'I promise babe'
Roy: 'I have to now'
Carter: 'Like right now?'
Roy: 'where do I go? :('
Carter: 'And u can't break a promise. And just go in a quiet parking lot or something.'
In several messages in 2012 that were shown to the court, Roy told Carter that Satan wanted him in hell on a certain date and it was his time to go.
But the tone of the texts between the pair shifted in 2014. Prosecutors focused on a series of text messages Carter sent Roy in the days before he killed himself.
'So I guess you aren't gonna do it then, all that for nothing. I'm just confused like you were so ready and determined,' Carter wrote to Roy the day of his suicide.
'You can't think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don't get why you aren't.'
She also instructed him in various texts to 'go somewhere in your truck' and 'go in a quiet parking lot.'
Carter and Roy met in Florida in 2012 while visiting relatives. Their relationship largely consisted of text messages and emails.