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Courts and Trials

‘You Can Commit a Crime Via Text’: Teen ‘Absolutely’ Caused Suicide of 18-Year-Old Boyfriend, Says Prosecutor

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The fate of Michelle Carter now rests with Bristol County Judge Lawrence Moniz.

The prosecution and the defense delivered their closing statements Tuesday afternoon the involuntary manslaughter trial for Carter, accused of urging her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad Roy to kill himself in 2014, when she was 17.

After the statements, Moniz went back to his chambers to consider a verdict. There is no set timeline for the judge’s decision.

If convicted, Carter, who pleaded not guilty, could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In her closing comments, Bristol County’s Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn told Moniz that Roy would not have ended his own life without Carter’s intervention, according to the Boston Globe.

Carter, now 20, “absolutely knew what she was doing and absolutely caused the death of this 18-year-old boy,” the Globe quotes Rayburn as saying. “The risk Michelle Carter created was reckless and amounts to involuntary manslaughter.”

Rayburn said it did not matter that Carter was not physically present during Roy’s final moments, because the last words he heard came from his girlfriend, allegedly manipulating him into following through with his suicidal plans.

“You can commit a crime via text,” Rayburn said, the Globe reports.

Rayburn said that Carter craved attention, and that texts and Facebook messages exchanged between the two shows Roy wanted to live. But Rayburn alleged Carter became fixated on Roy’s committing suicide.

“In the days Roy didn’t want to do it, Michelle Carter berated him and asked why he had the audacity to be alive the next day,” the Globe quotes Rayburn as saying.

Michelle Carter in court
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via AP

Defense Lawyer: ‘This Was a Suicide, Not a Homicide’

Carter’s defense attorney, Joseph Cataldo, stressed his client did not control Roy’s actions. Cataldo told the judge Roy researched various suicide methods, including water intoxication, according to the Globe.

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At one point, Cataldo told the court Roy brought his client “along on this sad journey” and used “Michelle Carter to carry out his plan. He chose to get in that car. He chose to continuously talk to Michelle Carter,” the paper reports.

“This was a suicide, not a homicide,” Cataldo said. “This is somebody who eventually wanted to take his life. It’s sad, its tragic but it’s just not a homicide.”

Roy was found dead in his truck on July 13, 2014, from carbon monoxide poisoning. A hose attached to a portable generator fed the fatal fumes into his vehicle, which was parked outside of a Kmart in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

Defense attorneys for Carter had argued Roy was going to commit suicide with or without her input, and that Carter was not the decisive influence.

Prosecutors cited more than 1,000 texts Carter and Roy in the week prior to his death, along with accounts she relayed to others, to allege that she knew he wanted to kill himself and pushed him to do so.

RELATED VIDEO: Psychiatrist Says Teen Who Allegedly Urged Friend To Kill Himself Was OnAntidepressants

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.

If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.