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

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
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 16: Michelle Carter arrives at Taunton District Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 16, 2017 to hear the verdict in her trial. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 16: Michelle Carter arrives at Taunton District Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 16, 2017 to hear the verdict in her trial. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 16: Michelle Carter arrives at Taunton District Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 16, 2017 to hear the verdict in her trial. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 13: Michelle Carter focuses on Judge Lawrence Moniz, after closing arguments were made during her trial in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 13, 2017. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 13: Conrad Roy, Jr., father of the deceased, comforts his daughter Camdyn Roy, sister of the deceased, as ADA Katie Rayburn makes her closing argument to Judge Lawrence Moniz during the trial of Michelle Carter in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 13, 2017. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 16: Michelle Carter arrives at Taunton District Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 16, 2017 to hear the verdict in her trial. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 13: As defense attorney Joe Cataldo makes his closing argument to Judge Lawrence Moniz during the trial of Michelle Carter, Lynn Roy, the deceased's mother, comforts one of her daughters in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 13, 2017. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 13: Judge Lawrence Moniz, left, listens as Dr. Peter Breggin explains that Michelle Carter wanted to help people to not commit suicide during Carter's trial in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 13, 2017. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TAUNTON, MA - JUNE 13: After a sidebar with Judge Lawrence Moniz, attorney Joe Cataldo, standing center, returns to the defense table with his client Michelle Carter, seated, before resting his case in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 13, 2017. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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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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