State’s Highest Court Hears Appeal of Teen Who Texted Boyfriend to Kill Himself

Texts are just words, Michelle Carter's lawyer argued.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

The highest court in Massachusetts heard an appeal Thursday from Michelle Carter, the Plainville teen who urged her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to commit suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014.

Carter’s lawyers argued in Supreme Judicial Court that  Carter’s dozens of texts were merely words and do not constitute a crime under any Massachusetts law. Prosecutors counters, calling Carter’s at times antagonistic badgering for Roy to kill himself “emotional manipulation.”

“You’re not joking about this or bullshitting me, right?” one of Carter’s texts to Roy reads. “I just want to make sure you’re being serious. Like I know you are, but I don’t know. You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing.”

Carter is appealing a juvenile court judge’s decision against dismissing the manslaughter charge in Roy’s death. The question at hand is whether Carter’s texts—ones like “You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.”—meet the definition of manslaughter.

Assistant District Attorney Shoshana Stern noted that in addition to her texts demanding Roy get back into his truck, Carter spoke on the phone with Roy as he inhaled the toxic fumes in the K-Mart parking lot in Fairhaven. But Carter’s attorney Dana Curhan argued that her text saying “get back in the truck” was not the “proximate event” that killed Roy. Attorney Joseph Cataldo, who also represents Carter, added that prosecutors were trying to criminalize his client’s free speech.

Carter and Roy were 17 and 18 at the time of his 2014 death.