A criminal case in a Massachusetts town has sparked controversy over whether a teenager should be held accountable for another person’s death. Earlier this month, a grand jury returned an indictment in the case against Michelle Carter. The 17-year-old teen was charged with involuntary manslaughter of Conrad Roy III, 18, who committed suicide. A prosecutor said that despite Roy’s reluctance to end his life, Carter, via text messages, encouraged him to carry on.
Carter, a Plainville resident, who was friends with Roy, a student from Fairhaven, was formally booked on February 5 after a grand jury in New Bedford believed enough evidence was on hand to warrant charges in the boy’s death. The case gained traction nationally as a wave of controversy erupted on social media over Carter’s alleged role in Roy III’s decision to take his own life.
Young woman Michelle Carter encouraged her male friend Conrad Roy III to kill himself, knowing he was suicidal…. http://t.co/JKZ7kmhqwm
— Discriminating Men (@DiscrAgainstMen) February 27, 2015
Roy was an outgoing student and an accomplished rower. However, according to court documents and friends who knew the student, he struggled with a history of depression. The news of his death sent ripples throughout the community because he appeared to have stabilized and managed his mental health issues quite well, citing a statement from his grieving grandmother, Janice Roy.
“We thought he was actually pulling out of it. We thought maybe it was more hopeful. ‘Cause he hadn’t been depressed for a few years.”
In July of 2014, police found Conrad Roy III dead in his grandfather’s Ford pickup truck in the rear of a Kmart store. Based on evidence at the scene, he rigged a gas pump with a hose to fill the passenger compartment with exhaust. The cause of death was suicide by way of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Investigators then probed his cell phone and found thousands of text messages from Michelle Carter in the days before his death. Manslaughter charges followed because they determined that the girl was allegedly instrumental in coaxing Roy to carry out his fatal plans.
Gregg Miliote, a spokesperson for Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III, made a statement as part of the indictment. He claims Carter instigated the boy’s death plans and didn’t do anything to prevent it even when he expressed second thoughts.
“Based on the totality of the investigation, it is alleged that Ms. Carter had first-hand knowledge of Roy’s suicidal thoughts. 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.
“When he actually started to carry out the act, he got scared again and exited his truck. But instead of telling him to stay out of the truck and turn off the generator Carter told him to ‘get back in.'”
Court documents also show Michelle Carter confided in a friend after Conrad Roy III’s death, and told them she persuaded him to end his life because she knew he would eventually do it at some time in the future.
Detective Scott R. Gordon said Carter exchanged a “slew” of text messages in the days leading up to his death, and “she was planning to continue to encourage Conrad to take his own life, so as a result she was beginning to put together a plan to get sympathy from her friends.”
“She already started explaining (to friends) that it’s her fault that Conrad is dead, even though he was still alive and speaking and texting with her regularly.”
After the boy’s death, Carter held a fundraiser to raise money that would assist his family and draw awareness to suicide and prevention. Since her indictment, a judge has banned her from social and casual use of a computer and internet access, with the exception of use for school and family communication.
Should Michelle Carter he held liable for Conrad Roy III’s suicide? Share your thoughts below.
[Photo: Facebook via NBC Connecticut]