Woman Who Urged Boyfriend To Kill Himself Appeals Conviction
When Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to carry out his suicide, it was an unprecedented conviction.
Conrad Roy III -- who was 18 years old at the time -- was found dead in his car from self-inflicted carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014, after exchanging text messages with Carter in which she pushed him to end his life.
A judge determined that Carter's "virtual presence" made her responsible for Roy's death in 2017, and she was later sentenced to 15 months in jail.
On Tuesday, lawyers for the 22-year-old filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court in a bid to have her conviction overturned.
The petition claims Carter's First Amendment right to free speech shields her from criminal responsibility because her involvement was limited to "words alone", the Washington Post reported.
It comes the same week as HBO airs its new documentary on the case, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter.
The two-part film explores the relationship between Carter and Roy, who shared an intense online bond but rarely interacted in person, instead communicating over text and Facebook from their separate towns.
Many of these messages were made public during the highly-publicised trial as police revealed Carter had pushed Roy to carry out his eventual suicide, suggesting different ways to do so and even reprimanding the teenager when he showed reluctance.
“You have to just do it,” Carter texted Roy as he contemplated suicide.
“You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.”
Carter's conviction was the first of its kind, sparking international debate about whether a person could be held liable for another's suicide based on words alone.
Ultimately, a judge found Carter had caused Roy’s death during a final phone call with the teenager, as he sat in a remote spot in a Kmart carpark.
Though the call was not recorded, Carter recounted it to another friend months later over text, stating Roy had at one point left the truck after growing scared. Carter then told her boyfriend to "get back in" as the vehicle was filling with carbon monoxide.
Judge Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court reasoned that by ordering Roy to return to the truck and failing to call for help, Carter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
The HBO documentary calls into question this series of events and whether Carter was being truthful while recounting the conversation later.
“Michelle Carter has a lot of issues with deception with lying for attention,” the director, Erin Lee Carr, told The Associated Press.
“How are we to trust that one sentence that it actually happened?”
The defence argued there was no real proof of what Carter had said on the phone.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.