ACLU: Michelle Carter Conviction Violates First Amendment

Olive Rios
June 19, 2017

Her sentencing hearing was scheduled for August 3.

Conrad died from carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck at Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Their relationship largely consisted of text messages and emails. You just have to do it.

In an official statement released by the Massachusetts ACLU, Segal states that, under Massachusetts law, it is not illegal to encourage, or even persuade, someone to commit suicide. She brushed off "his fears" and "concerns", according to Moniz, and when the Mattapoisett teen shut the door of his truck and ended his life, Carter was to blame.

Matthew Segal, the ACLU's legal director for MA, called Roy's suicide tragic but said, "It is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution".

Knowing that Roy was in his truck and in a toxic environment, the judge said, Carter took no action.

Defense lawyers argued that Roy had a history of depression and suicide attempts and was determined to take his own life.

The judge's verdict, at bottom, was that words can kill.

He also declared that what amounted to a constant and aggressive encouragement (for him to go ahead and take the suicide plunge) during these texts was what "caused the death of Mr. Roy".

Twenty-year-old Michelle Carter was found guilty Friday of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the July 2014 death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. She sent these messages prior to and during his suicide act, which he achieved by way of carbon monoxide poisoning in his auto.

Carter waived her right to a jury trial, so Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz decided the case. He said that although the suicide was tragic, it was not a homicide.

"I think she needs to be held responsible for her actions 'cause she knew exactly what she was doing", she said.

The trial heard that Carter and Roy exchanged hundreds of text messages in which Carter urged him to follow through on his plan to kill himself, urged him to hide it from his parents, lie to his mother and select a secluded parking lot. Carter wrote. "You can't keep living this way". I'm not saying they want you to do it but I honestly feel like they can accept it. They also say she told Roy to "get back in" his truck after he became frightened and got out. She was allowed to remain free on bail until then because she was a teenager at the time of the suicide.

This case has been one to watch because it's uncharted territory that raises the question of whether someone could kill someone just through words and encouragement... and whether those words are constitutionally protected speech. There is no MA law against encouraging someone to kill themselves.

CNN reports that Carter continued to pepper Roy with text messages while he sat in his vehicle, on the brink of killing himself.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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