Michelle Carter, a now 19-year-old woman who, as a teenager, allegedly talked her friend Conrad Roy III into committing suicide, may not face trial at all for alleged crimes, and get off scot-free due to a technicality, the Associated Press is reporting.
Carter was 17 — a juvenile under Massachusetts law — back in 2014 when her friend, Conrad Roy III, committed suicide. Prosecutors say that Michelle sent dozens of text messages to the young man encouraging him to commit suicide, and have been angling to have her put behind bars for manslaughter.
Lawyer: Drop charge against Michelle Carter, Massachusetts teen accused of encouraging Conrad Roy to commit suicide http://t.co/sn1S5LBQ1M
— apd (@EllePhunkadelle) August 29, 2015
Time Is Running Out
Because she was 17 at the time of the alleged crime, she was charged as a “youthful offender” under Massachusetts law, which means that she could be eligible for the same sentence an adult would face for a similar crime; in this case, up to 20 years in prison. However, her attorneys have asked the court to either drop the charges entirely, or to try the case in juvenile court.
If the Massachusetts Supreme Court sides with Carter’s defense and orders the case sent to juvenile court, prosecutors are going to be up against the clock — literally — to put her on trial. On August 11, Carter will turn 20 years old and “age out” of the juvenile justice system. That would mean that she can no longer be held criminally liable for any crimes she may have committed as a juvenile, and would essentially be allowed to walk away scot-free.
If, however, the court upholds the prosecution’s intent to try her as a “youthful offender,” there is no time limit and prosecutors wouldn’t need to rush their case.
On July 13, 2014, according to this Inquisitr report, Conrad Roy III committed suicide in the parking lot of a Fairfield, Massachusetts, K-Mart by carbon monoxide poisoning.
To Conrad’s grandmother Janice Roy, the idea that the “friend” who encouraged her grandson to commit suicide may not even face trial is almost unthinkable.
“We’re anxiously awaiting the decision. We’re hoping that she is put on trial.”
Michelle’s defense, however, argues that the young woman’s texts are protected free speech under the First Amendment. Her attorney Joseph Cataldo also notes that Conrad Roy’s decision to take his own life was his and his alone.
“She did not cause his death. He obviously caused his own death and took all the necessary steps — 100 percent of the physical steps — to bring about his own death.”
As of this writing, it is not clear when the Massachusetts Supreme Court intends to rule on whether or not Michelle Carter should be tried as a juvenile or a “youthful offender.”
[Photo by John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool]