Teen’s texts appear to encourage friend’s suicide, attorneys debate her culpability

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Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are professional resources available at all times. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: "No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7."

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- A Massachusetts teen accused of convincing her friend to commit suicide faces involuntary manslaughter charges after prosecutors say text messages show she was an accessory.

However, the defense argued Michelle Carter was also troubled and was just trying to help her boyfriend, Conrad Roy.

WCVB reported Carter and her parents, who were in court Monday, did not talk about the thousands of text messages between her and the deceased in July of 2014.

Carter is accused of coercing the 18-year-old him into suicide. In one text she said to Roy, "You said you were gonna do it. I don't get like why you aren't."

Roy responded, "I don't get it either. I don't know."

Conrad Roy

Conrad Roy

The defense argued Carter actually encouraged Roy not to take his own life and that the judge should drop the manslaughter charge because her attorneys claim she was "brainwashed."

“The government is harping, if you will, on her saying when are you going to do it? When are you going to do it?” Joseph Cataldo, Carter's attorney, said. “What they are not harping on are all the times she said don't do it, don't do it.”

Additionally, Carter's attorney argued the texts she sent Roy are protected as free speech.

However, New Bedford Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn stated in court that Carter is an accessory because she texted Roy.

“One can be an aider and abettor or an accessory before the fact simply for words,” Rayburn said.

Roy, who was battling depression and previously tried to commit suicide, died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the Fairhaven Shopping Plaza.

text

Text

Carter, who was on the phone with Roy when it happened, later told a friend she was talking to him while he committed suicide and  heard him cry in pain.

Prosecutors also said she stayed on the phone with Roy to ensure that he was dead.

Roy's family has since read every text.

“Her words are not protected, your honor. Her words are harmful, offensive and likely to cause an immediate, violent act,” Rayburn stated.

The judge could rule on dropping the charges against Carter on her next court date on Oct. 2.

Carter, who is being tried as an adult, could face 20 years in prison if convicted, according to WFXT.

Family Members: Conrad was in 'fragile state'  

Janice Roy, the boy's grandmother, told WBZ earlier this year that Roy had battled depression for "a few years."

“I just felt like blood drained out of me. I don't believe this,” Janice Roy said about learning of her grandson's death and the allegations against Carter.

“His death is my fault," Carter texted a friend. “I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I told him to get back in."

Janice Roy said she believed her grandson was manipulated into taking his own life.

“He was in that fragile state, yes. And I think he could have been manipulated not to,” she said.

Roy’s family said he had just earned his captain's license and was helping the family tugboat business.

“I was so proud of him when he got his captain’s license,” Conrad Roy Sr., the boy's grief-stricken farther, told WBZ. “He was very young.”

Police said Carter allegedly later texted a friend the grim details about Roy's death.

“He called me and I heard like muffled sounds and some type of motor running....I think he killed himself," the text read.

#JusticeForConrad trends on social media 

As news of the case spread on social media, the #JusticeForConrad hashtag began to go viral. In fact, it was a trending topic on Facebook for part of the week.

depressiontexts

Conrad Roy and Michelle Carter

8 comments

  • bob

    You cannot “cause” a suicide. And she’s obviously as screwed up as he was. What’s the point of this prosecution?

    I encourage liberals to kill themselves all the time.

    • Edward

      BOB you’re an idiot as per usual. Suicide is no joke. Never miss an opportunity to help someone else when they are in need, it just may save a life.

  • Cy Townsend

    Not to sound like a negative but Roy gave clues to everyone, 24\7, 365 days a year for years. If someone you love is in a fragile state, you get to the bottom. Getting to the bottom is not passing the buck to others like the hotline. The family knew but they like many wait until, too late and then want to blame the girlfriend? If a person is not getting help from the help, who killed this soul first? No one should have the burden to want to take their own life. The girlfriend was trying to support his goal of not feeling anymore pain. If he had pain, could the people in charge compile their thoughts of why kids get depressed in the first place? The real answer vs make a case against his girlfriend. I would slap her hand, get her some good counseling and warn but to give her 20 years is wrong. Maybe if this Country could take responsibility of not repeating negative history like the Great Depression, where people actually got depressed, maybe discussing the Y wouldnt keep coming up. Its like any woman who gets beat up by her immature hubby while the kids do nothing to save their mom. The family didnt achieve their goal of meeting the underneath problem. Roy is dead now. He has peace. Dont let him have hell again by accusing the one person who cared enough to give him peace. I read her text and she was brave. I do not encourage but she was brave and she should be receiving support and counseling vs pain and punishment. She has to deal with if it was the right answer vs confused and burdened. The why Roy felt hopeless. The adults in his life as hard as this sounds need to be responsible too and apply their energy where it will make a difference. A better way to give Roy true peace and forgiveness is bigger.

    • Brons

      This a girl did not just know he was going to do it and did nothing! She encouraged it! She was on the phone with him and when he backed out and got out of the car she told him to get back in! That’s not just the family not realizing how serous his depression was, if you don’t suffer from depression is hard to realize just how bad it really is. some people hide it well. This girl knew, she WANTED him to kill himself! If you ask me she should be charged with voluntary manslaughter instead! She knew what she was doing would cause his death, and even stayed on the phone with him to make sure he was dead!

  • Destiny Bradford

    My mother committed suicide 7 days after my birthday in 2013. She blamed me because I wouldn’t provide her money or allow her to live with me. I couldn’t have her live with me because of how abusive she is. I blamed myself and still sometimes fall into thoughts of blaming myself. After she died I visited a Dr who said something I will always remember, he said that yes, I could have caused her feeling suicidal but that last choice was hers. It validated what I was feeling and gave me peace. I did try to help her including taking her to the Dr multiple times after suicide threats. Sometimes you have to let go

  • mike

    in what world can you be held responsible for someone elses actions? stupid. but BOB, it would be great if you killed yourself. we’d all appreciate a break (for good) of your nonsense

  • C

    Regardless of the ruling in this case, it will never change the fact that she is a heartless demon. If anyone knew this story about her why would they want to be friends with her, date her, or include her in any family. If I were her family member I’d never speak to her again. If I were her parent, I’d give her a good beating, and take her by the hair to apologize to the boy’s family. She deserves every second of the 20 years in jail.

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