Michelle Carter is facing manslaughter charges after police alleged that the teen encouraged friend Conrad Roy to commit suicide, but experts say the state may be forced to drop the charges in the unusual case.
Roy took his own life on July 13, 2014, using a generator to fill his car with carbon monoxide. In February police in Massachusetts charged his friend Michelle Carter with involuntary manslaughter, claiming that she sent a series of text messages encouraging Roy to kill himself and even instructed him to get back into his truck when he started to change his mind.
Some have accused Carter of helping her friend kill himself so she could get more attention on herself. After Roy’s death she led fundraisers and sent messages on social media about suicide prevention.
But Carter’s attorney tells a different story. Joseph Cataldo claims that, once police release all the evidence, people will be able to see that the 17-year-old never coaxed her friend to commit suicide.
“I think it’s rather suspect they didn’t release all the other text messages they claim the two of them had… It’s a sad story, a tragedy, but it’s not manslaughter,” Cataldo told 48 Hours’ Crimesider. “What we have here is a young man who made a voluntary decision to end his own life. It was his voluntary decision. His death was not caused by Michelle Carter.”
Cataldo said he believes the state will ultimately drop the manslaughter charge against Michelle Carter, and others agree. Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney and president of Compassion & Choices, a non-profit organization that helps patients make end-of-life decisions, notes that Massachusetts has no law against assisted suicide. This will make it difficult to prosecute Cater, she said.
Massachusetts prosecutor Rikki Klieman also told CBS that the manslaughter charges against Michelle Carter will be very difficult to prove.
“It’s not cyberbullying, it’s not harassment, it’s not stalking. So the prosecutor says, ‘This is reprehensible conduct, disgusting conduct, must-be-punished conduct,’ so he goes forward and says, ‘Let’s call this involuntary manslaughter.’ Does it neatly fit in that definition? Not so much. We really are going to have a test case here.”
Michelle Carter faces an April 17 pretrial date for allegedly helping friend Conrad Roy kill himself.