World

Michelle Carter, who sent texts urging suicide, sentenced to prison term

Defendant sent Conrad Roy dozens of texts encouraging suicide, including text to 'get back in' car

Texting Suicide

Michelle Carter was sentenced today in Taunton, Mass., for involuntary manslaughter after encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself in July 2014. (Associated Press)

 shares

A Massachusetts woman was sentenced to 2½ years in prison on Thursday for goading a teenaged boy into suicide with a series of text messages in 2014.

Michelle Carter, 20, of Plainville, was found guilty in Bristol County Juvenile Court in June of involuntary manslaughter for urging Conrad Roy, 18, to kill himself in a parking lot in Fairhaven, Mass., about 100 kilometres south of Boston. The woman had opted against a jury trial.

Judge Lawrence Moniz said he weighed Carter's age at the time of the crime, when she was three weeks shy of her 18th birthday, in deciding how long a sentence to impose.

Conrad Roy

Conrad Roy's family members made statements in court Thursday. (Facebook)

"I have not found that Ms. Carter's age or level of maturity or even her mental illness have any significant impact on her actions," Moniz said. "She is a bright young lady, did well in school and I am satisfied that she was mindful of the actions for which she now stands convicted."

Carter to serve 15 months

Moniz said the first 15 months of Carter's sentence would be served in prison, with the balance suspended.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Carter to seven to 12 years in prison, while defence attorneys sought five years' probation.

Before her sentence was announced, Roy's father, also named Conrad Roy, told the court that he believed Carter had exploited his son.

"Michelle Carter exploited my son's weakness and used him as a pawn in her own well-being," Roy said. "How could Michelle Carter behave so vicious and encourage my son to end his life? Maybe it was her inhumanity."

The trial highlighted the dangers of cyberbullying 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. Roy, of Mattapoisett, briefly got out of the vehicle after he began to be overwhelmed by the fumes but returned after Carter urged him to "get back in."

Roy had previously attempted suicide, according to trial testimony.