Inside his truck, troubled Massachusetts teen Conrad Roy sent out one last cry for help via text message.
The 18-year-old, who had a history of mental illness and was previously prescribed psychiatric medication, wrote to his long-distance girlfriend Michelle Carter on July 13, 2014, informing her he was in the middle of a suicide attempt and breathing in toxic gas.
Carter, 17 at the time, sent back the following messages.
“You can’t think about it,” she wrote.
“You just need to do it Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you.
“No more waiting.
“If you want it as bad as you say you do, it’s time to do it today.
“You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.”
After the teen’s death, Carter texted a classmate. “It’s my fault,” she wrote. “I could have stopped him but I told him to get back in the car.”
She revealed she was worried about what investigators would find on Roy’s phone.
“I’m done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail.”
The early morning exchanges between Carter and Roy were a factor in his death, prosecutors later argued.
The case made headlines around the world and Carter was roundly condemned for her actions. But it also raised tricky legal questions about free speech.
Her lawyers argued the teen could not be convicted because she did not provide the deceased with the means to take his own life.
They said “she did not force Conrad Roy to kill himself.” They argued she was “brainwashed” to “endorse his plan”.
But in June 2017, Carter, now 22, was convicted for involuntary manslaughter and on August 3 last year sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail with five years on probation.
Today, she was back in court where her misery was compounded.
Carter, who has not yet served any jail time, was told by judges of Massachusetts’ highest court that her conviction would stand despite an appeal. They criticised her for failing to intervene.
“After she convinced him to get back into the carbon monoxide filled truck, she did absolutely nothing to help him,” Justice Scott Kafker said.
“She did not call for help or tell him to get out of the truck as she listened to him choke and die.”
Today’s ruling was likely the end of the road for Carter who has been on bail while pursuing her appeals. Her lawyers said they may consider taking her case to the US Supreme Court.
A spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney’s office said it will file a motion in the coming days asking the trial court to impose Carter’s jail sentence now that the state’s high court has ruled.
“This case is a tragedy for all of the people impacted by this case,” District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said.
“However, as the court found in two separate decisions, her conduct was wanton and reckless, and caused the death of Conrad Roy.”
The teenagers met in Florida two years before Roy’s death. They were holidaying with families at the time.
Roy’s mental illness was a common thread that connected the pair — she had dealt with depression and he had made earlier suicide attempts.
A court previously heard that Carter and Roy exchanged nearly 1000 text messages in the six days before his death.
If you are experiencing mental health issues or suicidal feelings contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency please call triple-0.
— with AP