A Massachusetts woman who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, after her boyfriend committed suicide, could face no prison time or up to 20 years behind bars.
Michelle Carter was convicted in June after a judge decided that her actions are what caused the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. She will receive her sentencing on Thursday at 2 p.m.
Carter was 17-years-old when Roy was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in July 2014.
The case revolved around the couple's intimate text messages that were sent days before Roy's death. In the messages, Carter urged Roy to follow through on his talk of taking his own life, even giving him her opinion about using a generator in the truck, as opposed to a water pump. "...Well in my opinion, I think u should do the generator because I don't know much about the pump and with a generator u can't fail," Carter wrote to Roy, just days before he took his own life.
“The time is right and you are ready ... just do it babe,” she texted him the day he killed himself.
The sensational trial received national attention, gaining great interest and a large following on social media because of the insistent tone of Carter’s text messages.
The defense argued that Roy had been determined to take his own life and that Carter was troubled and was simply "dragged" into Roy's suicidal journey.
"The evidence actually established that Conrad Roy caused his own death by his physical actions and by his own thoughts," Carter's lawyer, Joseph Cataldo said. "You're dealing with an individual who wanted to take his own life. ... He dragged Michelle Carter into this."
Cataldo also argued that what Carter said to Roy amounted to free speech and should be protected by the First Amendment.
The judge focused his ruling on the chilling detail of Carter telling Roy to “get back in” to the truck filled with carbon monoxide after he climbed out and told her he was afraid.
"She called no one, and finally she did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck," Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz said as he explained his verdict.
"This court has found that Carter's actions and failure to act where it was her self-created duty to Roy since she put him in that toxic environment constituted reckless conduct," the judge said. "The court finds that the conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy."
Carter has remained free on bail since the verdict. She was ordered to have no contact with members of the Roy family and was not allowed to apply for or obtain a passport, nor was she allowed she leave Massachusetts without permission from a judge.
Carter was tried as a youthful offender because of her age at the time of the offense which allows the judge several options for sentencing:
- Carter could be committed to the Department of Youth Services facility until she turns 21 on Aug. 11
- The judge could sentence Carter a combination of a DYS commitment with an adult sentence
- Carter could be sentenced as an adult, which could result in anything from probation to the maximum 20-year prison sentence
The Associated Press contributed to this report.