Woman who encouraged her boyfriend to take his own life set to start jail sentence

A woman who sent her suicidal boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself has been taken into custody to begin her sentence.

Michelle Carter, 22, of Massachusetts, was sentenced to 15 months in jail in 2017 for her role in the death of Conrad Roy III, but the judge allowed her to remain free while she appealed in state court.  

Massachusetts’ highest court upheld her conviction last week, saying her actions caused Mr Roy’s death. 

She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

A lawyer for Carter had argued the 22-year-old should stay out of jail while her defence team takes her case to the US Supreme Court. Her lawyers said in court documents that she has no prior criminal record, hasn’t tried to flee, and has been receiving mental health treatment.

Michelle Carter, 22, has begun her sentence after it was found she convinced her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to take his own life in 2014. Source: AAP

But a judge ruled Monday that Carter should start her sentence. Earlier in the day, Massachusetts’ highest court denied an emergency motion filed by her lawyers to keep her out of jail.

Carter showed no discernible emotion as she was taken into custody, though her shoulders sagged as she stood and prepared to be led away.

Mr Roy’s aunt Becky Maki expressed relief Monday, saying his family believes justice had been served even though the case had been a long and difficult ordeal for them.

Conrad Roy III took his own life in his parked truck in 2014. Source: WCVB

“We hope that no one else ever has to feel this pain,” Ms Maki said.  

“His life mattered.”

Carter’s lawyers vow to continue fight

Joe Cataldo, a lawyer for Carter, vowed to continue to appeal.

Carter was 17 when Mr Roy, 18, took his own life in Fairhaven, a town on Massachusetts’ south coast in July 2014. Her case garnered international attention and provided a disturbing look at teenage depression and suicide. 

Carter and Mr Roy both struggled with depression, and he had previously tried to kill himself.

Carter is led away by court officers after a hearing on her prison sentence on Monday. Source: AAP

Their relationship consisted mostly of texting and other electronic communications.

‘You keep pushing it off’

In dozens of text messages revealed during her sensational trial, Carter pushed Mr Roy to end his life and chastised him when he hesitated. As Mr Roy made excuses to put off his plans, her texts became more insistent. 

“You keep pushing it off and say you’ll do it but u never do. It’s always gonna be that way if u don’t take action,” Carter texted him on the day he died.

But the juvenile court judge focused his guilty verdict on the fact that Carter told Roy over the phone to get back in his truck.

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Scott Kafker said Carter had a duty to call the police or Roy’s family, but instead listened on the phone as he died.

Becky Maki, the aunt of Mr Roy, speaks to reporters outside of court on Monday. Source: AAP

“After she convinced him to get back into the truck, she did absolutely nothing to help him: she did not call for help or tell him to get out of the truck,” he wrote in the court’s opinion affirming her conviction. 

At trial, Carter’s lawyer argued she had initially tried to talk Mr Roy out of suicide and encouraged him to get help.  

Her lawyer said he was determined to kill himself and nothing Carter did could change that.

Carter’s legal team said there was no evidence that Mr Roy would have lived if Carter had called for help. They also argued there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Carter told Mr Roy to get back in his truck.

Mr Roy took his own life in a truck. He’s pictured here in one of a series of videos he filmed. Source: AAP

Her phone call with Mr Roy wasn’t recorded, but prosecutors pointed to a rambling text that Carter sent to a friend two months later in which she called Mr Roy’s death her fault.

Daniel Marx, who argued the case before the Supreme Judicial Court, said last week that the court’s ruling “stretches the law to assign blame for a tragedy that was not a crime.”

“It has very troubling implications, for free speech, due process, and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that should concern us all,” he said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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