Nearly five years after the death of her boyfriend, 18-year-old marine salvage captain Conrad Roy III, Michelle Carter has been sent to jail. In 2017, Carter was sentenced to 15 months in jail for her role in the death of Roy, but a judge allowed her to be free while she appealed the verdict in state court. On Feb. 6, 2019, Massachusetts’ highest court upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction, saying that Carter’s actions caused the teen’s death.
The case, Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, also known as the “texting suicide case,” has garnered national media attention due to the shocking details and complex discussion of “criminal responsibility” after Carter texted Roy, who had previously attempted suicide before, to get back in his truck when he got scared as he was filling the car with carbon monoxide while parked in a K-Mart parking lot on July 13, 2014 in Fairhaven, Mass. As a result of the actions, the teen died in his truck from carbon monoxide poisoning.
After police uncovered disturbing text messages between Roy and his long-distance and mostly online girlfriend, Carter, who was 17 at the time, was indicted on February 4, 2015, and arraigned the following day at in New Bedford Juvenile Court on charges of involuntary manslaughter in Taunton, Massachusetts.
The grand jury believed there was enough evidence to “wantonly and recklessly” assisting Roy’s suicide. The court indicted Carter as a “youthful offender” not a “juvenile,” and could be sentenced as an adult.
The trial began on June 6, 2017, and one day prior, Carter waived her right to jury trial and therefore the case was heard by Hon. Lawrence Moniz in the Bristol County Juvenile Court of Massachusetts, in Taunton. Carter was represented by Joseph P. Cataldo and Cory Madera.
During the trial, several text messages between the teens were used as evidence. The day Roy died, Carter texted him, “You keep pushing it off and say you’ll do it but u never do. It’s always gonna be that way if u don’t take action.”
On June 16, 2017, Judge Moniz found Carter legally guilty of involuntary manslaughter, explaining prior to his ruling that Carter’s phone calls with Roy when he was in his truck gassing himself, not the preceding text messages that caused the teen to take his life.
At the 2017 trial, Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz called the case “a tragedy for two families.” In his decision, Moniz also ruled that Carter was prohibited from gaining any profit from interviews, books or movies based on the sensational case.
On August 3, 2017, Judge Lawrence Moniz sentenced Carter to serve a two-and-a-half-year term, with 15 months to be served in the Bristol County House of Corrections, the rest of the balance suspended. Carter was also sentenced to five years of probation to be served.
Carter’s lawyers tried to overturn her conviction, but the conviction was upheld on Feb. 6, 2019. Supreme Judicial Court Justice Scott Kafker wrote in the court’s opinion affirming her conviction, “After she convinced him to get back into the carbon monoxide filled truck, she did absolutely nothing to help him: she did not call for help or tell him to get out of the truck as she listened to him choke and die.”
Following the court’s decision to uphold her guilty verdict, Roy’s grandmother, Janice, told NBC10 Boston, “It feels like there is closure.”