A Massachusetts juvenile court has found one Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Conrad Roy III who she referred to as her boyfriend.
Michelle, now 20, was 17 when she sent Conrad series of text messages, urging him to take his own life.
The 18-year-old was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, in July 2014.
New York Times reports that Michelle and Conrad had built a virtual relationship largely on texting from 2012 to 2014, and she encouraged him to seek treatment for his depression. However, two weeks before his death, she was reported to have told him to take his life several times.
Michelle’s guilty verdict was not based on the texts, but on a phone conversation on the day that he died. Although the conversation was not recorded, Michelle allegedly disclosed what happened that day in several text messages to her friends.
Judge Lawrence Moniz, of Bristol County Juvenile Court in southeastern Massachusetts heard that Michelle ordered Conrad to get back into his truck which was filled with carbon monoxide after he became sick from the fumes.
Conrad had driven alone to a Kmart parking lot and hooked up a water pump that emitted carbon monoxide into the cab of his truck.
Moniz said she took no action, knowing that he was in the truck and was in danger.
“She admits in subsequent texts that she did nothing; she did not call the police or Roy’s family. And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ‘Get out of the truck.'” the judge said.
According to Fox News, two of Michelle’s friends Samantha Boardman and Olivia Mosolgo testified that she texted them after Conrad’s death saying she caused his death.
“Sam his death is my fault, like honestly I could have stopped him. I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared,” she was reported to have said.
“I was talking on the phone with him when he killed himself… I heard him die,” Michelle reportedly told Olivia.
“I’m the only one he told things too. I should have gotten him more help,” she told another friend.
The judge said her failure to act constituted “wanton and reckless conduct”. She was then convicted of involuntary manslaugher.
Two videos found on Conrad’s computer where he describes his battle with mental health issues were played in court.
In one video he said he “will never be successful, will never have a wife, never have kids, never learn.”
“But I have a lot to offer someone. I’m introverted, nice and caring – that’s some benefits. I’m a nice kid. But it comes to a point where (I’m) too nice,” he added.
Mirror Online reports that the court heard more than 20,000 text messages exchanges were made – with more than 1,000 of those messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death.
Conrad hesitated in taking his life at some point, the text messages revealed.
“Like no I would be happy if they had no guilt about it because I have a bad feeling that this is going to create a lot of depression between my parents and sisters,” he wrote.
Michelle however allegedly responded “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’re doing this to be happy, and I think they will understand and accept it. They’ll always carry you in their hearts.”
“The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way,” Michelle allegedly said in another message.
Michelle’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, had insisted that no crime was committed by his client, adding that Conrad had a history of depression, which involved a previous suicide attempt which landed him in a psychiatric centre.
The lawyer said that she only started supporting his suicide after being “involuntarily intoxicated” by antidepressants.
Michelle, who will be sentenced on August 3, is facing up to 20 years in prison.