Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Massachusetts Teen Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in Assisting Her Boyfriend to Commit Suicide

Prosecutors handling the case for Michelle Carter, a young teen accused of assisting in her boyfriend’s 2014 suicide, have officially charged her with involuntary manslaughter following a hearing for her case in Massachusetts juvenile court. Michelle Carter, who was 17 at the time of Conrad Roy III’s suicide, now 18, was charged after prosecutors found that her correspondence with Roy leading up to his death encouraged the young man to take his own life even after he had expressed doubts to Carter. And while prosecutors will now face the difficult task of proving that these text messages exchanged between the two did in fact contribute to Roy’s death, they feel as though Michelle Carter should be held responsible to some degree for the role that she played in this tragic loss of life.

Prosecutors included multiple text message examples in their written response to the ruling that highlighted what they felt adequately showed how Carter “assisted by urging him (Conrad Roy III) to overcome his doubts about taking his own life, pressuring him to do it and even telling him to get back in his truck after becoming frightened that the plan was working.” And while Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, has stated that Roy acted consciously to orchestrate his own death and would have done so regardless of what Carter had said, those involved in the case do not agree with Cataldo’s notions.

According to a statement provided by Conrad Roy’s aunt, Becki Maki, his family felt as though Roy was turning his life around following a previously unsuccessful attempt at suicide in which Roy ingested pain killers in an effort to take his own life. He had spent time in a psychiatric hospital following the incident and was positively looking forward to the new chapters in his life. He graduated from high school and was in pursuit of his sea captain’s license. His family truly believed that Conrad Roy was starting to see the light again following his periods of darkness. Roy’s grandfather, also named Conrad, has said that Michelle Carter “…shut the light off,” for the young man and his family when she encouraged Conrad Roy III to take his own life in July of 2014.

Phone correspondence between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy, who had initially met two years prior to Roy’s suicide while both were on separate vacations in Florida with their respective families, indicate that Carter encouraged Roy’s actions on multiple occasions. Some text messages suggest that even when Roy was simply trying to start a conversation with Carter, she would quickly deflect his inquiries and ask why he hadn’t gone through with is plan to commit suicide yet. “…you seem to always have an excuse,” Carter stated in one text message sent to Roy in the week before his death. During this time, Michelle Carter not only encouraged Conrad Roy to take his life, but she researched online the different ways he could do so without feeling any pain. In July of 2014, Roy parked his truck outside of a Kmart in Fairhaven where he attached a generator to his car and killed himself via carbon monoxide poisoning. At one point in the evening he grew scared after feeling the poison start to take an effect. He exited the vehicle and contacted Michelle Carter—and instead of offering Roy help, instead of reaching out a hand and pulling Roy back out of the darkness, Carter told Roy to get back inside of his car and finish the job. He obliged.

Michelle Carter texted a friend of hers following Roy’s death which read in part, “…his death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I (expletive) told him to get back in…”. Prosecutors felt as though this exchange of messages, as well as the incriminating messages sent to Conrad Roy himself, were enough to formally charge Michelle Carter with involuntary manslaughter. Her attorney stated that she was merely expressing her freedom of speech, and that Massachusetts does not have a law prohibiting assisted suicide. He went on to say that Carter had offered Roy help on multiple occasions, but to no avail.

Prosecutors, while provided with an onslaught of evidence to support their case, will have a difficult road to upholding the manslaughter charge as they work to prove without a doubt that Michelle Carter’s actions were indeed a driving force behind Conrad Roy III’s fatal decision.

 

Additional quotes and information may be found at the following link: http://www.wcvb.com/news/prosecutors-must-prove-text-messages-led-to-suicide/35174468

 

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