A young Plainville woman who sent her boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself when they were both teenagers was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter.
Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz found that Michelle Carter caused the death of Conrad Roy III, who intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide in a store parking lot in July 2014. Their text messages in the week before Roy’s suicide were released in court documents following Carter’s indictment.
She had pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. Carter’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, told The Boston Globe in 2015 that the teenager had previously tried to help her boyfriend get help, but ultimately gave in and backed his suicide plan. Catado also argued that the messages are protected by the First Amendment. Unlike 40 other states, Massachusetts does not have a law criminalizing assisted suicide.
But prosecutors said Carter played a significant coercive role in the teenager’s suicide. In one texting conversation, she consoled Roy that his family would come to “accept” his suicide, later adding, “Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.”
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 she 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.
Roy: 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.
Roy: Yeah, it does. I’ve been thinking about it for too long.
Carter: Always smile, and, yeah, you just have to do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.
In another exchange, Carter told Roy, who had attempted suicide two years earlier, not to be afraid of another attempt.
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.
Roy: 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.
Roy: 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.
Roy: I really want to believe you.
Carter: Why don’t you.
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.
Roy: 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.
Roy: I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.
In other conversations, Carter seemingly pressured Roy amid her own frustration that he had delayed committing suicide.
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.
Prosecutors also say Carter helped Roy devise the plan to use carbon monoxide to kill himself. In one exchange, Roy proposed siphoning the poisonous gas from his truck’s exhaust pipes into the cabin. Carter endorsed the idea and advised him on the specifics.
Carter: Yeah, it will work. If you emit 3200 ppm of it for five or ten minutes you will die within a half hour. You lose consciousness with no pain. You just fall asleep and die. You can also just take a hose and run that from the exhaust pipe to the rear window in your car and seal it with duct tape and shirts, so it can’t escape. You will die within, like, 20 or 30 minutes all pain free.
She also advised him on the location.
Carter: Don’t do it in the driveway. You will be easily found. … Find a spot.
Roy: I don’t know. I’m thinking a public place. If I go somewhere private they may call cops.
Carter: Well, then someone will notice you.
Carter: Do you think you will get caught? I mean, it only takes 30 minutes; right?
Carter: Just park your car and sit there and it will take, like, 20 minutes. It’s not a big deal.
In another text, Carter suggested other methods of suicide if carbon monoxide poisoning didn’t work.
Carter: Oh, okay. Well I would do the CO. That honestly is the best way and I know it’s hard to find a tank so if you could use another car or something, then do that. But next I’d try the bag or hanging. Hanging is painless and takes like a second if you do it right.
On the morning of July 12, she suggested Roy commit suicide during the day and again pressed him to follow through.
Carter: Are you going to do it today?
Carter: Like in the day time?
Roy: 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.
Roy: Yeah then I will. Like where? Like I could go in any enclosed area.
Carter: Go in your truck and drive in a parking lot somewhere, to a park or something. Do it like early. Do it now, like early.
Roy: 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. The 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.
Roy. You’re right.
Roy: Okay. I’m gonna do it today.
Carter: You promise?
Roy: I promise, babe. I have to now.
Carter: Like right now?
Roy: Where do I go?
Carter And you can’t break a promise. And just go in a quiet parking lot or something.
Later that afternoon, Roy sent Carter a text that he was “determined.” Carter responded that she was “happy to hear that” and reiterated, “No more waiting.” After a traveling to the beach with his family and buying his sisters ice cream, Roy said he was questioning how to leave the house.
Carter: Are you gonna do it now?
Roy: I just don’t know how to leave them, you know.
Carter: Say you’re gonna go to the store or something
Roy: Like, I want them to know that I love them.
Carter: They know. That’s the one thing they definitely know. You’re over thinking.
Roy: I know I’m over thinking. I’ve been over thinking for a while now.
Carter: I know. You jut have to do it like you said. Are you gonna do it now?
Roy: I still haven’t left yet, ha ha
Roy: Leaving now.
Carter: Okay. You can do this.
Roy: Okay. I’m almost there.
Prosecutors say that last message, sent at 6:25 p.m., is the last text from Roy. According to officials, he left his mother’s house claiming to visit another friend, but instead drove to the Fairhaven K-Mart parking lot. Phone records show he called and talked to Carter twice, each time for roughly 45 minutes.
Police discovered his body the next day.
In a subsequent text message to another friend, Carter recalled feeling guilty for Roy’s death, and acknowledged pressuring him to get back in the truck after he out upon realizing the carbon monoxide was “working.”
“His death is my fault,” she said. “Like, honestly I could have stopped it. I was the one on the phone with him and he got out of the car because [it] was working and he got scared and I f[—]en told him to get back in … because I knew that he would do it all over again the next day and I couldnt have him live the way he was living anymore.”
—The Associated Press contributed to this story.