Michelle Carter Cannot 'Profit' From Urging Boyfriend to Commit Suicide Via Text, Judge Rules
Carter was sentenced to 15 months in prison, but her sentence was stayed until after her appeal is resolved
Michelle Carter cannot make any money in connection with the events leading to her involuntary manslaughter conviction for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide, the Massachusetts judge presiding over her case said during her sentencing Thursday.
Judge Lawrence Moniz sentenced Michelle Carter to two-and-a-half years in jail, but all but 15 months of that sentence were suspended. However, she will not immediately report to jail because her lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, said he plans to appeal her conviction, and Moniz agreed to stay her jail sentence until the appeal is resolved.
While sentencing Carter, Moniz said that “part of the motivation for [the crime] … was a sense of self-aggrandizement. This court now orders that you are not to profit from the events of which you now stand convicted.”
Moniz also barred Carter from having any contact with the family of Conrad Roy III, the 18-year-old who killed himself in 2014 after repeated urging by Carter.
Carter had faced up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors had asked for seven to 12 years in prison while the defense had asked for five years of supervised probation. She was charged as a youthful offender, which under state law allows her to be sentenced the same as an adult although she was a minor at the time of the crime.
After the sentencing, prosecutor Maryclare Flynn said her team is “certainly disappointed that the judge chose to stay the sentence,” adding that Carter’s actions were “egregious and ultimately caused the death of Conrad Roy.”
After the sentencing, friends of the Roy family expressed displeasure with the decision, with one calling it an “[expletive] joke.”
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Cataldo said after the hearing that the appeals process “could take months, years” and that Carter is “absolutely” relieved she will go home today.
“I am confident Michelle will be vindicated because I do not believe a law was broken and her words alone are not sufficient to establish a manslaughter,” Cataldo said.
During the hearing, Carter appeared distraught and wept at times, but she did not speak and no statement was read on her behalf. Prosecutors and relatives of Roy claimed Carter has not expressed remorse for her actions.
After the hearing, when asked about this claim, Cataldo said, “She has. I mean, there are a lot of legal reasons she can’t jump up and down in the courtroom and claim remorse.”
He said at Carter “was having her own mental health issues at the time [of Roy’s death]. Conrad Roy was having his.”
Carter was convicted in June in the death of Roy, who was found dead in his truck after he attached a hose to a portable generator to fill the cab with the carbon monoxide that killed him.
Investigators soon discovered a series of text messages — eventually more than 1,000, according to prosecutors — sent in the week prior to Roy’s death and exchanged between him and Carter, who said that she was his girlfriend.
Among those were ones from her that stated: “You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing,” “You just have to do it” and “It’s painless and quick.”
Police also found Carter’s subsequent written admission to a friend in which she recalled a phone call with Roy, who had exited his truck as it filled with toxic fumes. He told her that he was scared and didn’t want to abandon his family.
“Get back in,” Carter said she told him.
Prior to sentencing, Roy’s father, Conrad Roy, Jr., read a statement saying, “Michelle Carter exploited my son’s weaknesses and used him as a pawn.”
“How could Michelle Carter behave so viscously and encourage my son to end his life? Where was her humanity?” he added.
Suicide Prevention: What to Know
Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious or hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).
Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.
Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.