[Update: The case involving a Massachusetts teen who faces involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of her depressed friend has sparked a national debate over the reach of the law. On Saturday, cops spoke to reporters about developments in the case of suspect, Michelle Carter, 18, and the deceased, Conrad Roy III. They say texts from the defendant encouraged the victim to commit suicide last year, according to CNN.]
As her April 17 pretrial date nears, coverage of the controversial case is increasing around the country for a number of reasons. First, the case involves two teenagers who were allegedly romantically involved, and one ended up dead. Another involves the prosecution’s case, which is based on evidence that suggests text messages from Carter encouraged Roy to end his life, even when he expressed fear of leaving his family behind.
Roy, 18, at the time of his death, was a student from Mattapoisett and Fairhaven. Police found him dead on July 13. He was in his grandfather’s Ford truck at the time, and investigators say the vehicle was rigged in such a way to bring about his death by suicide. The cause of death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a statement Saturday from Kevin Kobza, a spokesperson from the Fairhaven Police Department.
Documents show that Roy was outside his vehicle while exchanging text messages with Carter. One of the “hundreds” of texts show the distraught teen had second thoughts and was considering putting an end to his fatal plans. However, Carter encouraged him to return to the vehicle and carry out his suicidal plans. Gregg Miliote, the communications director with the Bristol County district attorney’s office issued a statement about the teen’s death.
“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 public’s responses are mixed in Carter’s culpability in Roy III’s death. While the volume of text messages — and statements made by the defendant to friends — are being used to build the prosecution’s case, the girl’s attorney thinks otherwise. Joseph Cataldo addressed the media about his client and says the evidence at trial will prove Carter had many plans in the past to end his life, without anyone else being involved.
“The facts that have been given out to the public at this point put her in the worst possible light. My heart goes out to the family, but this was a young man who planned this for months and months.”
Some sources report that before Roy died, there was a gap in time in which he and Carter communicated. Then, the defendant became worried and reached out to friends to indicate her remorse about encouraging him to end his life. Detective Scott R. Gordon said Carter was already building up sympathy for Roy, even though he was still alive at the point she was sending texts to friends.
She reasoned he should carry out his plans because she feared he would do it some time in the future; it was inevitable. Some called Carter the “girl who cried wolf” and an attention-seeker; it was hard to tell when she was telling the truth. However, her family and attorney say the police and prosecution are painting a vastly different picture of the girl she really is, and that in no way should she be held accountable for encouraging the boy’s death.
Should texts alone for encouraging suicide be enough to charge a person for having partial responsibility in the death of another? Share your thoughts below.
[Photo by WBZ via Crime Scene Media]