A woman who sent hundreds of texts to another teenager urging him to kill himself was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Friday by a Massachusetts judge.
Michelle Carter, 20, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after sending texts that the prosecution said encouraged 17-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in 2014, when she was also 17.
Carter faces up to 20 years in prison.
The two met when they were teenagers on family vacations in Florida and over the course of months exchanged texts.
Over time, Carter started replying to Roy’s texts about the possibility of his committing suicide by telling him that his family would “get over it.”
On July 12, 2014, Roy drove to a supermarket parking lot and hooked up a water pump that emitted carbon monoxide into the cab of his truck. While talking to him over the phone, Carter told Roy, who was found dead the next day, to “get back in.”
Carter stood next to her attorney in tears as the judge read out her verdict to a full courthouse.
“Knowing that Mr. Roy is in the truck, knowing the condition of the truck, knowing or at least having a state of mind that 15 minutes would pass, Ms. Carter takes no action,” Judge Lawrence Moniz said to the court.
The ruling, which found that Carter’s texts led to Conrad’s death, could set a legal precedent, though experts remain split on the verdict.
“As morally reprehensible as her behaviour was, I wasn’t convinced that it was manslaughter,” said Daniel Medwed, a law and criminal-justice professor at Northeastern University.
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