Prosecutors have charged a Plainville, Massachusetts teen with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly encouraging a friend to kill himself in a parking lot last July.
The charge against Michelle Carter, now 18, reports the Boston Globe, claims she helped Conrad Roy III, who was 18 when he died, obtain information on how to die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and urged him to “get back in” his truck when he had second thoughts about going through with it.
A police report states Roy was found inside his car on July 13, behind a K-Mart in Fairhaven, having died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
In a search through Carter’s and Roy’s phones, police reportedly found Carter was in close contact with Roy in the days and hours leading up to his death. Police say Carter texted other friends to say Roy was missing and that she was worried about his safety.
“After writing one friend to say, ‘I’m losing all hope that he’s even alive,’ Carter texted Roy, ‘Let me know when you’re gonna do it,’ according to a police report,” reports the Globe.
The police report added that Carter, currently a senior at King Philip High School, had a “full understanding” of Roy’s suicide plan and “not only encouraged Conrad to take his own life, she questioned him repeatedly as to when and why he hadn’t done it yet.”
Authorities said Carter likely spoke on the phone with Roy until he died, but continued to text another friend “as if nothing happened.” They said Carter’s phone records suggest a teen who was desperate for attention and eager to be viewed as another victim of the tragedy.
Carter’s friends, reports the Globe, told police that they were often skeptical of the truth of her messages, and that she often exaggerated situations and had a pattern of crying wolf.
A text message Carter sent to a friend two months after Roy’s death reportedly indicated he had left his truck the day he died because he was afraid, but she urged him to get back in.
“I knew he would do it all over again the next day, and I couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore,” Carter allegedly wrote. “I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t let him.”
About a week after Roy’s suicide, police reportedly found a message Carter sent to a friend about the investigation, in which she expressed fear of being accused.
“They have to go thru his phone and see if anyone encouraged him to do it on texts and stuff . . .. They read my messages with him I’m done. My family will hate me and I could go to jail,” she allegedly said.
“Instead of attempting to assist him or notify his family or school officials, Ms. Carter is alleged to have strongly influenced his decision to take his own life, encouraged him to commit suicide, and guided him in his engagement of activities which led to his death,” the Bristol County district attorney’s office said in a statement.
However, Carter’s attorney, Joe Cataldo, said his client was shocked by the charges, and that prosecutors were manipulating the state’s manslaughter law to punish Carter for “not preventing a voluntary decision.”
“It was his voluntary decision to end his life,” Cataldo said. “His death was not caused by Michelle Carter.”
Cataldo also observed that Bristol district attorney Thomas Quinn recused himself from the case due to a family relationship with Roy’s family.
“It would seem to me that his whole office should be recused,” he said.
Roy, who had graduated from Old Rochester Regional High School last June with a 3.8 grade-point average, reportedly suffered from depression and had made an earlier suicide attempt. He earned a captain’s license from Northeast Maritime Institute, was an athlete, and had been accepted to Fitchburg State University.
According to the Globe, Roy’s parents reported to police that he and Carter met a few years ago in Florida while both were visiting family. Roy’s mother said most of the relationship between the two teens was conducted through texting and phone conversations.
Carter, who reportedly attended Roy’s wake and funeral, was indicted on February 5 and arraigned the next day in New Bedford Juvenile Court. She was released on $2,500 bail and ordered not to engage in social media with or text anyone outside of her immediate family. She has pleaded not guilty, and is due back in court in April.