Teen texting manslaughter verdict could face a legal challenge
04 August, 2017, 00:31 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
At the trial, prosecutors showed the court numerous text messages between Carter and Roy to prove that she pressured Roy to kill himself, instructed him as to when and how to do it, assuaged his concerns over killing himself, and chastised him when he delayed doing so.
"This court must and has considered a balancing between rehabilitation, the promise that that rehabilitation would work and a punishment for the actions that have occurred", Judge Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court said, announcing the sentence in a crowded courtroom. NBC Boston will broadcast the proceedings live.
A 13-year-old sister, Camden Roy, testified that she's "haunted" by the realization that she'll never see her brother Wednesday or be an aunt to his children. A controversial psychiatrist testified that Carter was "involuntary intoxicated" on antidepressants before Roy's suicide, which led her to become "grandiose" and "delusional".
"When are you gonna do it?"
"This conviction exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the MA and U.S. Constitutions", Matthew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of MA, said.
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During the trial, Assistant District Attorneys Flynn and Katie Rayburn pointed to Carter's actions after Roy's death, including describing herself as a mental health advocate to friends and sparring with Roy's best friend over credit for a memorial baseball tournament in Roy's honor, as evidence that she was seeking to socially profit from his death.
Michelle Carter has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison in the death of 18-year-old Mattapoisett native Conrad Roy, following her manslaughter conviction for pressuring him into suicide in July of 2014. He noted that Carter was three weeks away from adulthood at the time of the crime, but that she should still be considered a "child before the court".
"I would be shocked if she got the maximum sentence", Daniel Medwed, a professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University School of Law, told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.
The infamous exoneree published an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times saying "Michelle Carter deserves sympathy and help, not prison", just a few hours after Carter was sentenced. The American Civil Liberties Union of MA immediately decried the guilty verdict, saying at the time in a statement that the conviction "exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the MA and U.S. Constitutions".
But Gertner said the First Amendment implications are complex, and speech in the United States is not protected in all situations.
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Gertner said Moniz's ruling is interesting because he determined Carter should have intervened knowing that Roy was in the process of suicide.
"I pray to God you will take into consideration that Michelle was a troubled, vulnerable teenager in an extremely hard situation and made a tragic mistake", he wrote to Judge Moniz.
MA is one of about 10 states where it is not illegal to encourage suicide.
If someone you know is struggling emotionally or having thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevent Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time.
"I was a judge for 17 years, and an emotional element always plays a role", she said.
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