By Danielle Wallace
Published September 21, 2019
[Editor's note: This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).]
A Massachusetts woman convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide will reportedly be released from prison early despite having been denied parole earlier this week, according to reports.
Michelle Carter, 22, began her 15-month sentence in February after the Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed with the lower court’s guilty verdict. Prosecutors said Carter was 17 in July 2014 when she persuaded her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, to kill himself through dozens of texts and phone calls. Roy died when his pickup truck filled with carbon monoxide in a store parking lot in Fairhaven, Mass.
After completing nearly half of her sentence, Carter appeared in a closed-door hearing Thursday to request to be paroled after serving seven months. The Massachusetts State Parole Board denied that request. A spokesman from the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office told CNN Friday that Carter will still be released from prison weeks early after earning some “good time.” She is set to be released March 13 instead of May 5.
“The [board] is troubled that Ms. Carter not only encouraged [Conrad Roy III] to take his own life, she actively prevented others from intervening in his suicide,” the Massachusetts parole board wrote in the decision to deny parole, according to The Hill. “Ms. Carter’s self-serving statements and behavior, leading up to and after his suicide, appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity.”
"Given subject's behavior in facilitating victim's death, release not compatible with best interest of society," wrote one of the two parole board members, according to USA Today. She "did not provide sufficient insight into reason for lack of empathy at time of crime and surrounding time period."
Carter's attorney, Joseph Cataldo, told People magazine he was hopeful the board would have granted Carter parole give that she was 16 when she knew Conrad Roy III and 17 when he died. He added that his client also was struggling with mental health issues at the time Roy III committed suicide. Both teens had struggled with depression and Roy III had attempted suicide several times before his death.
“She has conducted herself within the confines of her release, so I believe she was an excellent candidate for parole. By no means is she a danger to society,” Cataldo said.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court wrote in February that evidence showed Carter was guilty "by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim's death by suicide." Prosecutors said Roy III briefly got out of his carbon monoxide ridden truck to speak on the phone with Carter when he began to have second thoughts. Carter sent a text to a friend, saying she told Roy III to “get back” in his vehicle.
“The time is right and you are ready ... just do it babe,” Carter wrote in a text to Roy II the day he died, according to The Hill. “You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t,” she wrote in another message.
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Her attorneys appealed the case a second time to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that her messages were protected under the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. Police said Carter also misled family and friends in the days and hours before her boyfriend’s death, People reported. She allegedly told them Roy III had gone missing though she was in constant communication with him over the phone at the time.