PLAINVILLE, Mass., July 2 (UPI) — A Massachusetts court ruled a teen who allegedly encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide must stand trial for manslaughter.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Friday a grand jury had probable cause to indict Michelle Carter, 19, in the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III in 2014. The unanimous decision was the first time the court had ruled that an involuntary manslaughter indictment could stand on “the basis of words alone.”
Investigators said Carter, 17 at the time, helped Roy research how to die from carbon monoxide poisoning and told him to “get back in” to the truck when he had second thoughts on July 13 and continued texting friends “as if nothing happened.”
“In sum, we conclude that there was probable cause to show 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,” Justice Robert Cordy wrote for the court in the unanimous ruling, according to the New York Times.
Roy’s grandfather praised the decision of the court to have Carter stand trial for her alleged role in the suicide.
“I hope they hold her accountable for her actions,” Conrad Roy Sr. said. “She told him to get back in the truck. She prodded him on. All of the text messages are pretty much self-explanatory.”
Carter’s lawyer Joseph Cataldo said he “respectfully disagrees” with the court’s ruling, saying Roy “caused his own death” and noted lower standards for the grand jury prompted the indictment.
“At trial, it’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard, and I’m confident that ultimately, after trial, Michelle Carter will be acquitted,” he said.