Michelle Carter, the 20-year-old Plainville woman who sent text messages urging her boyfriend to kill himself, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Carter was charged with the 2014 death of her then-boyfriend Conrad Roy III, 17, who was found dead his truck on July 13, 2014 of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carter waved her right to a jury trial, meaning a single judge decided the case.
Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz delivered his verdict Friday morning, during which he referenced the evidence that Carter, then 18, told Roy to get back into his truck, which was parked in a K-mart plaza parking lot in Fairhaven, after he began to express doubts about committing suicide.
Carter cried as the judge explained his reasoning, but remained composed as she stood to hear the verdict.
“Ms. Carter’s action and also her failure to act where she had a self created duty to Mr. Roy since she put him into a toxic environment constituted wanton and reckless conduct,” the judge said. “The Commonwealth has proven that said conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy.”
Carter has not yet been sentenced as a presentencing report needs to be prepared first. Her sentencing is set for August.
Moniz ruled that Carter can remain free on bail as she has never failed to appear in court so far, but she is ordered not to contact Roy’s family or to leave the state. She faces a sentence of probation to 20 years in prison.
Moniz did acknowledge that Roy took “significant actions of his own” toward taking his own life, such as acquiring the generator, researching how to use it and speaking of his plan often.
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The judge said that Carter’s messages to Roy up to July 13, in which she kept asking when Roy would follow through with his plan and told him how long the generator would take to kill him, did not count as reckless conduct, according to the judge, because “it is apparent to this court… that Mr. Roy was struggling with his issues and, seeing a way to address them, took significant actions of his own toward his end.”
Roy has also attempted suicide previously, the judge noted. In Oct. 2012, he attempted to drown himself, but came up for air. A few weeks later, he attempted suicide through the use of pills, but called a friend and sought treatment.
“In Oct. 2012 when he attempted to drown himself, he literally sought air,” he said. “When he exited the truck, he literally sought fresh air.”
But it is because Roy broke “the chain of self-causation” when he exited his truck and thus its toxic environment, and at that time reached out to Carter, that she is at fault, the judge said.
The fact that Roy may have tried to commit suicide again after the July 2014 parking lot attempt, and perhaps would have succeed on his own, did not affect the court’s decision.
When Roy got back in the truck, he was on the phone with Carter. She later said in texts to friends that she could hear him coughing and the noise of the motor in his truck.
Carter then knew that Roy was entering back into a toxic environment that threatened his life, the judge said, and had a duty to alleviate that risk.
Carter did not call any members of Roy’s family or the police, despite knowing his location and that he was at risk, Moniz said.
“Finally she did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck,” Moniz added.