This morning, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld a 15-month jail sentence for Michelle Carter, the 22-year-old found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for explicitly urging her boyfriend Conrad Roy to kill himself in 2014 and helping him plan it via text message.
Carter, who was 17 at the time, sent Roy messages like, "Tonight is the night. It's now or never," and, "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."
Carter was first found guilty in June of 2017 and in August of the same year sentenced to two-and-a-half years in the Bristol County House of Correction. The judge on the case, Judge Lawrence Moniz, decided to reduce her sentence down to 15 months on the condition that she not violate her probation and agreed to stay the sentence completely until she appealed it in state court.
Carter's defense team attempted to make the case that punishing Carter for her messages to Roy would be a violation of the First Amendment and alleged that he was acting on his own will based on his previous suicide attempts, but the court found both of those arguments insubstantial both initially and on appeal.
In the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling on the appeal on Wednesday morning, the court concluded that "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."
The ruling includes multiple examples of texts exchanged between Carter and Roy before the 18-year-old killed himself, as well as texts between Carter and her friends where she discloses that she told Roy to proceed with his plan to end his life during a call just moments before he did it. "The judge concluded that the defendant's actions and her failure to act constituted, 'each and all,' wanton and reckless conduct that caused the victim's death," the ruling reads.
Pending a decision on her appeal, Carter has remained free. Now, along with her 15-month sentence, Carter is facing a $4.2 million lawsuit over the alleged wrongful death of Roy, a case brought on by his mother.