US high court urged to take up texting suicide appeal

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WPRI/AP) — Lawyers for a woman who encouraged her boyfriend through text messages to take his own life have appealed her involuntary manslaughter conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michelle Carter’s attorneys told the high court in a 50 page petition filed Monday that her conviction, based on her “words alone,” violated her First Amendment right to free speech.

Carter’s attorneys also argued the lower court interpreted involuntary manslaughter too broadly, and violated her Fifth Amendment right to due process.

According to the petition, Massachusetts is the only state to have upheld the conviction of a “physically absent defendant who encouraged another person to commit suicide with words alone.”

Carter began serving a 15-month jail sentence in February after Massachusetts’ highest court upheld her 2017 conviction in Conrad Roy III’s death.

One of her lawyers said in an emailed statement that Carter “did not cause Carter Roy’s tragic death and should not be held criminally responsible for his suicide.”

A judge found Carter caused Roy’s death in 2014 when she instructed him over the phone to get back in his truck as it was filling with toxic gas.

There is small likelihood the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Carter’s case.

According to the court’s website, about 7,000 to 8,000 cases are filed every term, and justices only take up about 100. That gives Carter’s case a less than 2% chance of being heard.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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