A woman who sent her boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself when they were both teenagers has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a trial that raised questions about whether words can kill.
The judge found that Michelle Carter caused the death of Conrad Roy, who took his own life in Massachusetts in July 2014.
Carter, who faces up to 20 years in prison, cried and clutched a handkerchief to her face as Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz detailed her conduct and the circumstances of Roy’s death, but she was stoic when the verdict was formally pronounced.
As spectators and members of both the Roy and Carter families left the courtroom, she sat at the defence table, sobbing, while her lawyers tried to comfort her.
The judge focused his ruling on three words Carter said to the 18-year-old Roy after he climbed out of his truck as it was filling with toxic gas and told her he was scared.
“Get back in,” Carter told Roy, according to a friend who testified that Carter described the conversation in a text message to her about a month after Roy died.
The judge said those words constituted “wanton and reckless conduct”.
He said Carter, then 17, had a duty to call someone for help when she knew Roy was attempting to take his own life. Yet she did not call the police or Roy's family, he noted.
"She did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck," the judge said.
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