Woman in Massachusetts teen texting
suicide case to be sentenced
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[August 03, 2017]
BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts
woman could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on Thursday for
goading her teenage boyfriend into suicide with a series of text
messages in 2014.
Michelle Carter, 20, of Plainville was found guilty in June of
involuntary manslaughter for urging her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad
Roy, to kill himself in a parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, about
60 miles (100 km) south of Boston.
The verdict, which marked the first time in the state a person had been
found guilty of manslaughter only for words, was handed down by Bristol
County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz after Carter opted against a
jury trial. Moniz also is responsible for sentencing.
The trial drew intense interest in the area. It both highlighted the
dangers of cyber bullying and raised concerns among civil liberties
advocates who argued that prosecutors and the judge overreached by
finding Carter guilty for her speech.
Moniz focused on messages she sent to Roy as he sat in his truck, which
was filling with carbon monoxide from a generator he had hooked up to
it. Roy, of Mattapoisett, briefly got out of the vehicle after he began
to be overwhelmed by the fumes but returned after a message from Carter
urging him to "get back in."
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Both Roy and Carter had suffered emotional problems. Roy had
previously attempted suicide and Carter had taken psychiatric
medication, according to trial testimony. Carter's lawyers had
argued that she was involuntarily intoxicated by medication while
messaging Roy and not in full control of her actions.
Roy's aunt, Kim Bozzi, in a statement published by the Boston
Herald, urged Moniz to impose the maximum penalty.
"She should be kept far away from society," the newspaper quoted
Bozzi as saying. "Take away the spotlight she so desperately
Carter's attorneys have not said if they will appeal the verdict.
Some legal analysts suggested that Moniz may give a lighter sentence
on the grounds that doing so is less likely to lead to an appeal.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)
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