Michelle Carter 'Very Disappointed' After Conviction in Boyfriend's Suicide: Attorney
Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Friday for urging the 2014 suicide of her boyfriend
“The case presented some very novel legal issues, and we’re very disappointed in the outcome of the verdict,” attorney Joseph Cataldo tells PEOPLE.
Cataldo adds that he and Carter, 20, “will be weighing our various options moving forward” and are focused on Carter’s sentencing on Aug. 3.
He said he is not sure whether Carter will appeal her conviction.
Carter faces up to 20 years in prison. Addressing her potential sentencing, Cataldo says, “There’s a whole host of different options ranging from jail to probation.”
Carter was accused of urging the suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, over texts and phone calls. On July 13, 2014, authorities found Roy’s body in his pickup truck in a parking lot where, the night before, he had filled the cab with deadly carbon monoxide.
Prior to and then during the trial, Cataldo tried unsuccessfully to dismiss Carter’s charge, arguing her texts are constitutionally protected speech.
The texts, he said, “did not contain anything remotely resembling a threat,” according to a court filing previously obtained by PEOPLE.
According to Cataldo, among Carter’s many messages with Roy, she told him to seek “professional help.”
“This is a tragedy,” Cataldo previously said, “but it is not a crime.”
After the verdict, Cataldo tells PEOPLE, “I still believe that the legal position that we advanced in those prior briefs are still good, sound legal positions, and we’ll see where the case proceeds from here.”
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In announcing his verdict in the bench trial, for which Carter waived her right to a jury trial, Judge Lawrence Moniz said his ruling did not in fact hinge on the thousands of texts Carter and Roy exchanged prior to his suicide, reports the The New York Times.
Rather, the decision owed to a single phone call during Roy’s suicide in which Carter urged him to get back in his truck after he had exited the vehicle while it filled with toxic fumes. During that call, Carter also listened to Roy dying on the phone and failed to get help.
By exiting the vehicle, Moniz said Roy “breaks the chain of self-causation.”
Moniz added, “She admits in … texts [to friends] that she did nothing: She did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family” after hearing him die. “And, finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck.”
Cataldo declined comment on the Moniz’s rationale.
On Friday, Roy’s mom, Lynn Roy, told 48 Hours, “She knew exactly what she was doing and what she said.”
Lynn Roy added, “I don’t believe she has a conscience. The fact that she would say to him, ‘Your family will get over you.’ How is that even — I will never get over him.”
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.
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