Teen who texted her boyfriend encouraging his suicide will go on trial

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Teen Who Texted Boyfriend to Kill Himself Will Stand Trial

Michelle Carter, the then-17-year-old girl who sent her boyfriend Carter Roy dozens of text messages encouraging him to commit suicide, will face trial, the Associated Press reports. Carter was indicted by a grand jury for her role in Roy's death, but a lack of legal precedent left it unclear whether a trial would go forward. In a stern ruling, a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Friday that Carter's texts amounted to a "systematic campaign of coercion" and constituted a "direct, causal link" to Roy's suicide.

Carter's lawyer had argued that her texts, which included messages like, "When are you gonna do it? Stop ignoring the question. ????" and "If you want it as bad as you say you do it's time to do it today," were protected under the First Amendment, and that Carter's own mental-health issues played a role. Furthermore, Massachusetts does not have a specific law prohibiting encouraging or verbally assisting in suicide.

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Michelle Carter charged with encouraging boyfriend to commit suicide
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Michelle Carter charged with encouraging boyfriend to commit suicide
Michelle Carter appears for a hearing in court with her attorneys Cory Madera, left, and Joseph Cataldo, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Michelle Carter talks with one of her attorneys, Joseph Cataldo, during a hearing, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn presents her side of the argument during a hearing for Michelle Carter, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because District Attorney Thomas Quinn is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Michelle Carter's parents, David and Gail Carter, watch the hearing for their daughter, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP)
Attorney Joseph Cataldo speaks on behalf of Michelle Carter, second from left, during her appearance in court, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP)
Michelle Carter listens as one of her attorneys, Joseph Cataldo, right, speaks on her behalf during a hearing, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Michelle Carter appears for a hearing in court with her attorneys Cory Madera, left, and Joseph Cataldo, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)
Michelle Carter's parents, David and Gail Carter, talk in the courtroom immediately following the hearing for their daughter, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New Bedford, Mass. The Bristol district attorney's office says it has no conflict of interest in the case of Carter, a Massachusetts high school student charged with encouraging a friend to kill himself. However, Carter's defense team has requested the case be moved out of Bristol County because the district attorney is the victim's third cousin. (John Wilcox/The Boston Herald via AP)
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But the judge ruled that "the coercive quality of the defendant's verbal conduct overwhelmed whatever willpower the 18-year-old victim had to cope with his depression, and that but for the defendant's admonishments, pressure, and instructions, the victim would not have gotten back into the truck and poisoned himself to death."

Involuntary manslaughter charges usually result from reckless, criminal negligence or misdemeanor charges such as hit-and-runs or driving under the influence. Prosecutors said they "appreciate" the court's decision and will focus on preparing for the trial, which has not yet been assigned a date.

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