A Massachusetts woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide through a series of text messages was sentenced Thursday.
A judge sentenced Michelle Carter to 2½-years in jail, but ruled she would be eligible for probation after 15 months and suspended the rest of her sentence until 2022. He also sentenced her to five years of probation. Moniz granted a defense motion to stay her sentence, meaning she will not have to go to jail until she exhausts her appeals in Massachusetts. She’s now free on supervised release.
Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, told reporters he believes Carter will be cleared.
Carter was 17 in July 2014 when she urged 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to “get back in” a truck filled with toxic carbon monoxide gas parked in a Fairhaven parking lot. Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz convicted Carter in June after a bench trial, saying her final instruction to Roy to get back in the truck caused his death.
In dozens of text messages, Carter 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.
Prosecutors allege Carter pushed Roy to commit suicide because she was desperate for attention and sympathy from classmates, and wanted to play the role of a grieving girlfriend. Cataldo said Roy was intent on killing himself and took Carter along on his “sad journey.” A psychiatrist testified Carter too was “very troubled” and at first tried to talk Roy out of it, but became convinced she needed to help Roy “get to heaven” only after he convinced her there was nothing she could do to stop him.
Prosecutor Maryclare Flynn called probation “just not reasonable punishment” for her role in Roy’s death. Prosecutors asked the judge for a sentence of 7-12 years.
Moniz repeated a statement by a prosecutor which he called “perhaps the most poignant comment in the trial” — “This is tragedy for two families.”
In handing down his sentence, he cited that Carter was a juvenile at the time of the crime. He said he hasn’t found that her age or level of maturity or mental illness had any significant impact on her actions, but said the young age of youthful offenders offers a greater promise of rehabilitation.