Supreme Court Declines To Hear Case Of Michelle Carter, Teen Who Encouraged Her Friend To Commit Suicide

The case could have had profound First Amendment implications.

the supreme court building in washington
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The case could have had profound First Amendment implications.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear the case of Michelle Carter, a Massachusetts woman who, as a teenager, encouraged her friend to commit suicide, NBC News reports. The announcement means that her sentence of 15 months in prison will stand.

Carter is behind bars, serving her sentence after having reported to prison in February. Carter was sentenced earlier, but her sentence had been stayed multiple times as the case worked its way up through the courts. However, on February 11, Carter began serving the sentence, even as the case was being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, back in 2014, when Carter was 17, she encouraged her friend, Conrad Roy, to commit suicide.

The two teens met and began their relationship in 2012 while their families were on vacation. Their relationship reportedly consisted mostly of exchanging text messages. Though their families only lived a few miles apart, the teens only saw each other in person a few times over the course of a couple of years.

Roy, who had a history of depression and psychiatric treatment, took his life on July 13, 2014, asphyxiating himself via carbon monoxide poisoning by running a hose from his truck’s exhaust to the cab.

artistic montage representing depression
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During his suicide, Roy and Carter exchanged text messages. In them, Carter urged the young man to go through with the suicide. At one point, Roy suggested he was going to call it off, but Carter told him, in a phone call, to get back into the truck.

Roy later died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carter was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Carter’s attorneys argued that the First Amendment’s free speech protections meant that she could not be criminally liable for her words.

“Carter neither provided Roy with the means of his death nor physically participated in his suicide,” her lawyers argued.

Judge Lawrence Moniz of the Bristol County Juvenile Court of Massachusetts disagreed, however, and sentenced the teen two two-and-a-half-years, with 15 months to be served in the Bristol County House of Corrections — the rest of the balance suspended — and five years of probation.

Carter’s team continued to appeal the case.

With the Supreme Court declining to hear her case, Carter will be required to complete her sentence, barring an early release.

In an eerily similar case, which also took place in Massachusetts, Inyoung You was also criminally prosecuted for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. As The Boston Herald reports, You allegedly maintained almost total control over her boyfriend, unlike Carter, who had little actual contact with Conrad Roy.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.