'Texting Suicide' Case Could End Up at Supreme Court

Massachusetts' highest court just rejected Michelle Carter's appeal
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2019 1:42 PM CST
Massachusetts' Highest Court Upholds 'Texting Suicide' Conviction
In this June 8, 2017 file photo, Michelle Carter sits in Taunton District Court in Taunton, Mass. Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to prison for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy, III to kill himself in July 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, File)

The "texting suicide" case made it all the way to the highest level of Massachusetts' judicial system—but the state's top court upheld Michelle Carter's conviction Wednesday. Carter, now 22, was convicted of manslaughter after urging her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself in 2014, when she was 17. A suicidal Roy, with Carter's goading, climbed back into his carbon-monoxide filled truck after stepping out, and ultimately died. The seven-member Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a unanimous verdict, found that Carter did indeed "badger" and "constantly pressure" Roy to go through with the suicide, Reuters reports.

"The evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim’s death by suicide," reads the decision. Carter's team had argued her conviction violated her first amendment right to free speech, but the court found that she was not being punished for just words but for "reckless or wanton words causing death." The court also ruled Carter had a duty to contact authorities or Roy's parents when she knew he was harming himself, the AP reports. Carter had been ordered to serve 15 months of a 2 1/2-year sentence in prison, but she has been free, with the sentence on hold, during the appeal process. Her lawyer says he may now appeal to the US Supreme Court. (Much more on the case here.)

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