In 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III was found dead in his car. The teen had killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning from running a portable generator in his vehicle without ventilation. What’s even more disturbing about this teen suicide is that it appears to have been encouraged by Roy’s then girlfriend, Michelle Carter.
In June, 2017 Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for pressuring her boyfriend to commit suicide. Carter began an appeal process, which delayed her sentencing for more than a year.
This week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denied Carter’s appeal concluding that her claim “lacked merit” and that she “acted with criminal intent.”
The evidence was sufficient to support the judge’s finding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed involuntary manslaughter as a youthful offender, and that the other legal issues presented by the defendant, including her First Amendment claim, lack merit.
– Justice Scott L. Kafker
Judge Kafker stated that there was “no doubt the defendant wantonly or recklessly instructed the victim to kill himself, and that her instructions caused his death.”
Prosecutors proved that when Roy attempted to exit his vehicle, which was full of carbon monoxide, Carter spoke to him on the phone and told him to get back in.
Massachusetts Judge Lawrence Moniz said the two factors that led to Carter’s conviction were the fact that she encouraged Roy to get back in the truck, which was already filled with carbon monoxide, and her failure to tell anyone else about it.
The text exchange between Roy and Carter may have been the most damning piece of evidence. Every time Roy showed hesitation, Carter encouraged him to kill himself. According to a court transcript of their text messages, “Carter pushed Roy to take his life even when he seemed unwilling to do so.”
Text Message Transcript
CARTER: I think your parents know you’re in a really bad place.
I’m not saying they want you to do it but I honestly feel like they can accept it.
They know there is nothing they can do. They’ve tried helping.
Everyone’s tried, but there is a point that comes where there isn’t anything anyone can do to save you, not even yourself.
And you’ve hit that point and I think your parents know you’ve hit that point.
You said your mom saw a suicide thing on your computer and she didn’t say anything.
I think she knows it’s on your mind and she’s prepared for it.
Everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on.
They won’t be in depression. I won’t let that happen.
They know how sad you are, and they know that you are doing this to be happy and I think they will understand and accept it.
They will always carry you in their hearts.
CONRAD: Aww. Thank you, Michelle.
CARTER: They will move on for you because they know that’s what you would have wanted.
They know you wouldn’t want them to be sad and depressed and be angry and guilty.
They know you want them to live their lives and be happy.
So they will for you. You’re right. You need to stop thinking about this and just do it because over turning always kills, over thinking.
CONRAD : Yeah, it does. I’ve been thinking about it for too long.
CARTER : Always smile, and, yeah, you have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.
[D]on’t be scared. You already made this decision and if you don’t do it tonight you’re gonna be thinking about it all the time and stuff all the rest of your life and be miserable.
You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. No more bad thoughts and worries.
You’ll be free. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.
I would be concerned if you weren’t scared, but I know how bad you want this and how bad you want to be happy.
You have to face your fears for what you want.
CARTER : If you don’t think about it, you won’t think about failing.
You’ll just do it and then thinking you’ll succeed.
CONRAD : Right. That’s what I’m talking about. I read so much about failed attempts gone wrong that it’s gotten me discouraged.
CARTER : Yeah, exactly, so stop doing that. There is more success than there are failures.
CONRAD : Are you kidding me?
CARTER : You have to look at it that way and people only fail because they have the same mindset as you. Thinking they’ll fail.
CONRAD : I really want to believe you.
CARTER: Why don’t you.
Messages from July 12:
CARTER : You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t.
CONRAD: I don’t get it either. I don’t know.
CARTER : So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined.
CONRAD : I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.
CARTER: No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it. Do you want to do it now?
CONRAD : Is it too late? I don’t know. It’s already light outside. I’m gonna go back too sleep. Love you. I’ll text you tomorrow.
CARTER : No. It’s probably the best time now because everyone is sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck and no one is really out there right now because it’s an awkward time. If you don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it, and you can say you’ll do it tomorrow, but you probably won’t. Tonight? Love you.
CONRAD: Thank you.
CARTER : For what. Are you awake?
CONRAD : Yes.
CARTER : Are you gonna do it today?
CONRAD : Yes.
CARTER: Like in the day time?
CONRAD : Should I?
CARTER : Yeah, it’s less suspicious. You won’t think about it as much and you’ll get it over with instead of wait until the night.
CONRAD : Yeah then I will. Like where? Like I could go in any enclosed area.
CARTER: Go in your truck and drive in a parking lot somewhere, to a park or something. Do it like early. Do it now, like early.
CONRAD: Didn’t we say this was suspicious?
CARTER: No. I think night is more suspicious, a kid sitting in his car turning on the radio. Just do it. It wouldn’t be suspicious and it won’t take long.
CONRAD : Okay. I’m taking Holly for a walk.
CONRAD : I don’t know why I’m like this.
CARTER : Sometimes things happen and we never have the answers why.
CONRAD : Like, why am I so hesitant lately. Like two weeks ago I was willing to try everything and now I’m worse, really bad, and I’m LOL not following through. It’s eating me inside.
CARTER: You’re so hesitant because you keeping over thinking it and keep pushing it off. You just need to do it, Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you. You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is tum the generator on and you will be free and happy. No more pushing it off. No more waiting.
CONRAD : You’re right.
CARTER : If you want it as bad as you say you do it’s time to do it today.
CONRAD : Yup. No more waiting.
CARTER : Okay. I’m serious. Like you can’t even wait ’till tonight. You have to do it when you get back from your walk.
CONRAD : Thank you.
CARTER : For what?
CONRAD : Still being here.
CARTER : I would never leave you. You’re the love of my life, my boyfriend. You are my heart. I’d never leave you.
CONRAD : Aw.
CARTER : I love you.
CONRAD : Love you, too.
CARTER : When will you be back from your walk?
CONRAD : Like, five minutes.
CARTER : Okay. So you gonna do it?
CONRAD : I guess.
CARTER : Well, I want you to be ready and sure. What does that mean?
CONRAD : I don’t know. I’m freaking out again. I’m over thinking.
CARTER : I thought you wanted to do this. This time is right and you’re ready. You just need to do it. You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did the last time and not think about it and just do it, babe. You can’t keep doing this every day.
CONRAD : I do want to but I’m like freaking for my family I guess. I don’t know.
CARTER : Conrad, I told you I’ll take care of them. Everyone will take care of them to make sure they won’t be alone and people will help them get through it. We talked about this and they will be okay and accept it. People who commit suicide don’t think this much. They just could do it.
CONRAD : I know. I know. LOL. Thinking just drives me more crazy.
CARTER : You just need to do it, Conrad, or I’m gonna get you help. You can’t keep doing this everyday.
CONRAD : Okay. I’m gonna do it today.
CARTER : You promise?
CONRAD : I promise, babe. I have to now.
CARTER : Like right now?
CONRAD : Where do I go?
CARTER : And you can’t break a promise. And just go in a quiet parking lot or something.
CONRAD : Okay.
CARTER : Go somewhere you know you won’t get caught. You can find a place. I know you can. Are you doing it now?
Later that afternoon:
CONRAD : I’m ready.
CARTER : Good because it’s time, babe. You know that. When you get back from the beach you’ve gotta go do it. You’re ready. You’re determined. It’s the best time to do it.
CONRAD : Okay, I will.
CARTER : Are you back?
CONRAD : No more thinking.
CARTER : Yes. No more thinking. You need to just do it. No more waiting.
CONRAD : On way back. I know where to go now.
CARTER : Where?
CONRAD : A parking lot. There is going to be no cars there at 9:00. So that’s when I’ll be found.
CARTER : Okay, perfect. When will you be home?
CONRAD : Ten minutes. Ha ha, that’s perfect.
CARTER : Okay. And, well, yeah, I don’t know.
CONRAD : Like, I don’t want to kill anyone else with me.
CARTER : You won’t.
CONRAD : When they open the door they won’t know it’s odorless and colorless.
CARTER : You’re over thinking. They will see the generator and realize you breathed in CO too.
CONRAD : So should I keep it in the back seat or front?
CARTER : In the front. You could write on a piece of paper and tape it on saying carbon monoxide or something if you’re scared.
CONRAD : I was thinking that but someone might see it before it actually happens.
CARTER : Well, wait, the generator is gonna be on because you’ll be passed out, so they’ll know you used carbon monoxide. Dead. It’s not loud is it?
CONRAD : Not really, LMAO.
CARTER : Okay, good. Are you gonna do it now?
At 5:08PM, Conrad came back from the beach and sent a message to Carter:
CONRAD : I’m home.
CARTER : Okay.
CONRAD : Ah.
CARTER : What?
CONRAD : I don’t know. I’m stressing.
CARTER : You’re fine. It’s gonna be okay. You just gotta do it, babe. You can’t think about it.
CONRAD : Okay. Okay. I got this.
CARTER : Yes, you do. I believe in you. Did you delete the messages?
CONRAD : Yes. But you’re going to keep messaging me.
CARTER : I will until you turn on the generator.
CONRAD : Okay. Well, I’m bringing my sisters for ice cream.
CARTER : So will you do it when you get back?
CONRAD : Yup, I’ll go right there.
CARTER : Okay.
CONRAD : Love you.
CARTER : I love so much.
CONRAD : (Smiley face).
CARTER : 33.
CONRAD : Ha ha. What are you doing?
CARTER : Nothing really. Just resting.
CONRAD : Okay. Ha, ha I’m procrastinating.
CARTER : Yeah, ha ha, I know. Are you back?
CONRAD : Yup.
CARTER : So it’s time?
CONRAD : Oh, it’s been time.
CARTER : Are you gonna do it now?
CONRAD : I just don’t know how to leave them, you know.
CARTER : Say you’re gonna go the store or something.
CONRAD : Like, I want them to know that I love them.
CARTER : They know. That’s one thing they definitely know. You’re over thinking.
CONRAD : I know I’m over thinking. I’ve been over thinking for a while now.
CARTER : I know. You just have to do it like you said. Are you gonna do it now?
CONRAD : I still haven’t left yet, ha ha.
CARTER : Why?
CONRAD : Leaving now.
CARTER : Okay. You can do this.
CONRAD : Okay. I’m almost there.
The full transcript includes texts in from the days and weeks before Roy’s suicide.
“It’s probably the best time now because everyone is sleeping,” she wrote in a text. “Just go somewhere in your truck and no one is really out there right now because it’s an awkward time. If you don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it, and you can say you’ll do it tomorrow, but you probably won’t. Tonight? Love you.”
Carter would regularly check in with Roy to see if he was still alive and admonished him for not “getting on with it.”
“I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready __ just do it babe,” Carter wrote. She then asked him to delete his text messages after turning on the generator shortly before his suicide.
Carter will serve 15 months of her sentence in prison with the remaining sentence suspended. She will be required to serve probation for five years after she is released from prison. The full ruling can be read here.