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Mass. upholds Michelle Carter's involuntary manslaughter conviction

By
Daniel Uria

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The Massachusetts Supreme Court Wednesday upheld an involuntary manslaughter conviction against Michelle Carter for her role in the suicide of her boyfriend in 2014.

In a unanimous ruling, the court stated Carter acted with criminal intent when she "badgered" Conrad Roy III with text messages that convinced him to "get back in" to a truck filling with poisonous fumes to follow through on a plan to kill himself.

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"We conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the judge's finding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed involuntary manslaughter as a youthful offender, and that the other legal issues presented by the defendant, including her First Amendment claim, lack merit," Justice Scott L. Kafker wrote.

Carter was 17 years old and Roy was 18 years old at the time of his death in 2014.

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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.

As a result of the ruling, Carter will serve 15 months in prison due to the 2017 conviction for involuntary manslaughter.

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Carter's defense team will have 28 days to ask the high court to reconsider its ruling and the Bristol District Attorney's Office will need to have the stay on Carter's sentence revoked in a lower court.

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Daniel N. Marx, Carter's attorney, said her legal team was "disappointed in the Court's decision."

"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. Today's decision stretches the law to assign blame for a tragedy that was not a crime," said Marx.

Carter's lawyers had argued to the high court that no one can be convicted of manslaughter for instructing someone to harm themselves and Marx said the ruling "has very troubling implications, for free speech, due process, and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, that should concern us all."

"There are good reasons why nearly every other state has passed a law to address 'assisted suicide,' which inevitably involves complicated circumstances better addressed as a matter of policy by the legislature than in any particular case by the court," he said. "We will evaluate all legal options for Michelle including a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court."

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Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said his office was "very pleased" with the high court's ruling.

"This case is a tragedy for all of the people impacted by this case," said Quinn. "As the court stated, the defendant herself admitted that she caused the death of Conrad Roy by her own conduct."

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