A trial is taking place in Massachusetts of a young woman named Michelle Carter, charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of boyfriend Conrad Roy III.
Roy committed suicide in the summer of 2014 at the age of 18 by using carbon monoxide from a truck’s exhaust system to poison himself. In the lead up to Conrad’s death, Carter repeatedly urged him to kill himself. In Carter’s trial that began Tuesday, evidence of the teens’ text message exchanges showed Carter’s continuous attempts to convince her boyfriend to commit suicide.
In Tuesday’s opening statements, prosecutors argued that Carter wanted to be the “grieving girlfriend,” so as to gain popularity among the in-crowd at school. “She used Conrad as a pawn in her sick game of life and death” and was actually on the phone with him as he died in a big box parking lot.
“Conrad got out of his truck as he was being poisoned and he got scared,” said the Prosecution. “The defendant [expletive] told him to get back in.”
“She never admitted to anyone in the Roy family that she had helped Conrad for weeks to devise a suicide plan or that she was on the phone with Conrad and knew he committed suicide in the Kmart parking lot.”
Nice girl. But is she guilty of manslaughter? If not, then what if anything is she guilty of besides her tearless inhumanity to a troubled young man?
Transcripts of her phone messages (which numbered in the thousands to Conrad reveal a constant pressure from her to get him to kill himself:
Carter: I think your parents know you’re in a really bad place. I’m not saying they want you to do it but I honestly feel like they can accept it. They know there is nothing they can do. They’ve tried helping. Everyone’s tried, but there is a point that comes where there isn’t anything anyone can do to save you, not even yourself. And you’ve hit that point and I think your parents know you’ve hit that point. You said your mom saw a suicide thing on your computer and she didn’t say anything. I think everyone knows it’s on your mind and she’s prepared for it. Everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on. They won’t be in depression. I won’t let that happen. They know how sad you are, and they know that you are doing this to be happy and I think they will understand and accept it. They will always carry you in their hearts.
Conrad: Aww. Thank you, Michelle.
Carter: They will move on for you because they know that’s what you would have wanted. They know you wouldn’t want them to be sad and depressed and be angry and guilty. They know you want them to live their lives and be happy. So they will for you. You’re right. You need to stop thinking about this and just do it because over turning always kills, over thinking.
Conrad: Yeah, it does. I’ve been thinking about it for too long.
Carter: Always smile, and yeah, you have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.
Carter: [D]on’t be scared. You already made this decision and if you don’t do it tonight you’re gonna be thinking about it all the time and stuff all the rest of your life and be miserable. You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. No more bad thoughts and worries. You’ll be free. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die. I would be concerned if you weren’t scared, but I know how bad you want this and how bad you want to be happy. You have to face your fears for what you want.
In another exchange, Carter told Conrad he shouldn’t be afraid of failing in his attempt to kill himself.
Carter: …If you don’t think about it, you won’t think about failing. You’ll just do it and then thinking you’ll succeed.
Conrad: Right. That’s what I’m talking about. I read so much about failed attempts gone wrong that it’s gotten me discouraged.
Carter: Yeah, exactly, so stop doing that. There is more success than there are failures.
Conrad: Are you kidding me?
Carter: You have to look at it that way and people only fail because they have the same mindset as you. Thinking they’ll fail.
Conrad: I really want to believe you.
Carter: Why don’t you.
In another text message, Carter said she was frustrated that Conrad hadn’t committed suicide yet.
Carter: Well… I guess [that I am frustrated], just because you always say you are gonna do it but you don’t, but last night I know you really wanted to do it and I’m not mad. Well, I mean kind of, I guess, just because you always say you’re gonna do it… but you don’t but last night I knew you really wanted to and I’m not mad.
Carter: You’re not joking about this or bullshitting me, right? … I just want to make sure you’re being serious. Like, I know you are, but I don’t know. You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing.
In other text message conversations, Carter advised Conrad about obtaining a generator to use in this suicide. On the morning of his death, Carter messaged Conrad:
Carter: You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t.
Conrad: I don’t get it either. I don’t know.
Carter: So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined.
Conrad: I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.
Carter: No you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it. Do you want to do it now?
Conrad: Is it too late? I don’t know. It’s already light outside. I’m gonna go back too sleep. Love you. I’ll text you tomorrow.
Carter: No. It’s probably the best time now because everyone is sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck and no one is really out there right now because it’s an awkward time. If you don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it, and you can say you’ll do it tomorrow, but you probably won’t.
Carter: Tonight? Love you
Conrad: Thank you.
Carter: For what? Are you awake?
Carter: Are you gonna do it today?
Carter: Like in the day time?
Conrad: Should I?
Carter: Yeah, it’s less suspicious. You won’t think about it as much and you’ll get it over with instead of wait until the night.
Conrad: Like, why am I so hesitant lately. Like two weeks ago I was willing to try everything and now I’m worse, really bad, and I’m LOL not following through. It’s eating me inside.
Carter: You’re so hesitant because you keeping over thinking it and keep pushing it off. You just need to do it, Conrad. YThe more you push it off, the more it will eat at you. You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you will be free and happy. No more pushing it off. No more waiting.
Conrad: You’re right
Carter: If you want it as bad as you say you do it’s time to do it today
Conrad: Yup. No more waiting
Carter: Okay, I’m serious. Like you can’t even wait til tonight. You have to do it when you get back from your walk.
What can one say in the face of such coldness? She was on the phone with him as he died. When he got scared and got out of the truck she insisted he get back in. Then she walked around school like a grieving girlfriend.
Then Michelle Carter went off to the prom and a vacation at Disney World.
Samantha Boardman was among several of Carter’s friends and acquaintances who took the witness stand on Wednesday, the second day of the involuntary manslaughter trial in Taunton juvenile court. She testified that Carter texted her that she was on the phone when Roy way dying, told him to get into the truck when he had stepped out and was now worried because the police had Roy’s phone with all of her messages pressuring him to suicide.
Her attorney argues that this was a suicide, plain and simple and that Roy was a deeply troubled young man. And besides, there is no law in Massachusetts prohibiting assisted suicide. And where is the line for free speech. She didn’t supply him with the generator he used to kill himself (though she gave him the necessary information), she wasn’t there when he killed himself (though she was on the phone and told him to get back in the truck when he stepped out) and she has no obligation under the law to call 911.
Her actions constitute a singular crime against humanity.