Mass. upholds Michelle Carter's involuntary manslaughter conviction

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The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with a lower court judge who found Michelle Carter caused Conrad Roy's 2014 death when she told him to "get back in" his truck that was filling with toxic gas after he told her he was scared. She appealed the decision, but her conviction was upheld Wednesday by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

"The only verbal conduct punished as involuntary manslaughter has been the wanton or reckless pressuring of a vulnerable person to commit suicide, overpowering that person's will to live and resulting in that person's death", Kafker wrote in the ruling.

In arguments before the high court in October, Carter's attorney Daniel Marx said Carter was a misguided teen who was struggling with her own issues and had been trying to help Roy.

"We continue to believe that Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy's tragic death, and she should not be held criminally responsible for his choice to end his own life", Marx said.

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Her defense argued that her statements and texts urging Roy forward as he contemplated suicide were covered by First Amendment free-speech protections.

She was sentenced to serve 15-months in jail but has remained free pending her appeal.

The high court cited Carter's texts to friends in which she said Roy's death was her fault because she "told him to get back in" the truck after he "got scared" and left the vehicle as he inhaled carbon monoxide.

The judge said Carter, now 22, had a duty to call the police or Roy's family when she knew the 18-year-old meant to kill himself.

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"I thought you wanted to do this. I mean, you're about to die", she wrote in another. She opted against a jury trial, leaving her fate in the hands of Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz, who found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter in June 2017. Roy had previously attempted suicide, and Carter had planned to seek treatment for an eating disorder.

On July 13, 2014, Roy's body was found in a vehicle in a MA parking lot. Prosecutors said Carter could have stopped Roy but instead pushed him to go through with his plan.

Assistant District Attorney Shoshana Stern told the court that Carter knew she had "significant leverage" over Roy and became more insistent as he became more depressed.

Carter was 17 at the time and Roy was 18.

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"This conviction exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the MA and U.S. Constitutions. It has very troubling implications, for free speech, due process, and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that should concern us all".

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