In August this year, a criminal court convicted Michelle Carter, 20, of involuntary manslaughter in a case that both legal minds and parents intently followed.
Soon after Michelle’s boyfriend Conrad Roy III took his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning in a K-mart parking lot, the police discovered text messages from Michelle urging – almost bullying – Conrad into going through with his planned suicide even on days when he could not go through with it.
The story is perplexing as it is tragic. The authorities learned that Conrad had hesitated halfway through carbon monoxide poisoning and got out of the car to speak to Michelle, who – seemingly irritated by his indecision – challenged him to “stop overthinking” and “do it.”
Going through her text messages can make anyone wonders how and why a young girl, only 17 at the time of the incident, can manipulate a vulnerable friend into taking his own life.
However, the question before the court was: Does she have criminal liability? It may have been despicable, but was it a crime?
What does involuntary manslaughter mean?
A criminal lawyer in Springfield such as noll-law.com can better explain the elements of Involuntary Manslaughter. These involve cases when inherently dangerous or negligent actions inadvertently lead to someone’s death.
Typically, defendants should have known better that their actions posed a threat to someone’s life, but all the same, went ahead with disregard.
Why is this case significant?
It sets a precedent on how much weight the Criminal Justice System places on texting and social media as an instigator. Were Michelle Carter’s words the equivalent of a gun, a vehicle, or a physical tool that inadvertently caused Conrad’s death?
For parents of vulnerable teenagers, the verdict offers some relief in the midst of rampant cyberspace bullying. A CNN article even editorialized the passage of a new law on “coercing suicide.”
Conrad Roy III had gotten to a point when he would apologize to his girlfriend for being indecisive about his plan to commit suicide. In a much-awaited verdict, the jury found that Michelle Carter had criminal liability.