TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — The young woman who in June was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide is set to learn her fate Thursday afternoon.
Michelle Carter, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced in Taunton Juvenile Court at 2 p.m. Her crime carries up to 20 years in prison, but the Bristol County District Attorney’s office has not disclosed how many years the Commonwealth will be asking for at the sentencing hearing.
Carter’s boyfriend Conrad Roy III took his own life in July of 2014 by using a generator to fill his pickup truck with carbon monoxide in a Fairhaven parking lot. Carter, who was 17 at the time, repeatedly texted him urging him to go through with the suicide, and prosecutors said she was on the phone with him while he died.
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Judge Lawrence Moniz rendered a guilty verdict in the jury-waived trial, declaring that the prosecution “proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Carter’s actions, and also her failure to act, where she had a self-created duty to Mr. Roy since she had put him into that toxic environment, constituted each and all wanton and reckless conduct,” and that “said conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy.”
One of the key elements of the case was evidence that Carter told Roy over the phone to get back in his truck that was filling up with poisonous gas, even as he was starting to feel the effects and exited the vehicle.
Carter’s defense attorney, Joseph Cataldo, had argued that Roy made the decision to take his own life, pointing to a previous suicide attempt and evidence of suicidal thoughts dating back years. In a suicide note left behind for Carter, Roy thanked her for trying to help him and did not ascribe blame.
The defense also hired an expert witness, psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, who testified that he believed Carter was “involuntarily intoxicated” by antidepressants when she sent the texts urging Roy to take his own life. Judge Moniz said he did not find Dr. Breggin credible.
Roy’s aunt is expected to ask the judge for a 20-year prison sentence for Carter at Thursday’s sentencing, the Boston Herald reports, while Carter’s father will request that she be spared prison time.