Criminal Justice

Manslaughter case against texting teen in boyfriend's suicide will proceed, judge says

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The involuntary manslaughter case against a Massachusetts teenager accused of encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide will proceed, a judge has ruled.

Juvenile Court Judge Bettina Borders, in an order Tuesday, said there is sufficient evidence for a grand jury to indict Michelle Carter, 18, in the death of her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, reports.

Roy was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck last July. Carter is charged with encouraging him through text messages and phone calls to commit suicide.

Defense lawyer Joseph Cataldo had asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying Carter didn’t cause Roy’s death. He also said she was 50 miles away from him when he died, and that her speech was protected by the First Amendment.

But Borders said text messages from Carter telling Roy to “get back in the truck” when he exited because he was “scared that it was working,” as well as weeks of counseling and encouragement to commit suicide, led to his death. She also said the First Amendment doesn’t protect conduct that threatens another.

Cataldo said he would appeal the ruling, which he said “stretched the boundaries and definition” of what constitutes a threat.

“If anything, the reading [from the text messages] is she encouraged him to gather strength to do what he wanted to do,” he said. “I don’t see how that’s a threat that she was going to harm him.”

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office told the Associated Press that prosecutors were pleased with the ruling and can now focus on the upcoming trial.

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