The criminal case against Michelle Carter has captivated the attention of both law makers and the general public. In June, Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter of her then boyfriend Conrad Roy III. What made this case different was Carter’s role in pushing Roy to end his own life. The pair exchanged hundreds of texts related to Roy killing himself, and these texts were proven in court to play a significant part in him ending his life. After hours of testimony regarding sentencing, Carter was given a 2.5 year prison term with 15 months in custody. She walked out of court today as she will remain on bail on appeal.
The guilty verdict was handed down in June with sentencing now underway. This is standard for most cases of this nature, but what is not standard for charges that are this serious is the fact that even after being found guilty the judge allowed Carter to remain out of custody. She has been out on bail since before the trial. This is certainly not the standard for those facing 20 years in prison as she is. She was also allowed to be tried as a minor even though at 17 many others have been forced into adult court.
The criminal trial lasted six days and included many personal email exchanges between the pair. The texts included Carter urging Roy to not back out of his plan to end his own life and even at times instructions as to how to end his life. Her own words to her young boyfriend were the most damning bits of evidence presented at the trial. One such exchange that occurred on the morning of his suicide included the texts:
“You need to do it, Conrad.”
“You can’t think about it, you just have to do it.”
“Are you going to do it today?”
These texts came after an early morning exchange with Carter that gave him tips about suicide and attempted to make him believe it was the best solution. That series of texts included this haunting message:
“You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you will be free and happy.”
“No more pushing it off.”
“No more waiting.”
At this point in the case, Carter has already been found guilty. The biggest argument in court today was not tied to her role in the suicide, but instead how much of a sentence is appropriate for the 20-year-old. A 20-year prison term is what many hope to have happen, and that is what the state is asking for.
The judge, Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz, has already shown lots of lieniency to Carter. First, he allowed her to be considered a minor instead of an adult in this criminal matter and second to not be taken into custody after being found guilty.
While the sentencing part of the trial moved forward, many legal experts weighed in on what the outcome may, in fact, end up being. Some thought that the fact that Carter was tried as a juvenile would more than likely mean a focus on rehabilitation instead of prison time. There were others though that pointed to the fact that this case may shape future laws and therefore the judge could use a harsher sentence for Carter as an example.
Beyond the possible changes in laws tied to suicide, legal experts like Daniel Medwed also pointed out some interesting factors linked directly to Carter that may influence the case outcome. According to a report about this portion of the trial:
“Daniel Medwed, a professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University, said aggravating factors in favor of a stiff sentence include Carter’s “level of blameworthiness — her truly despicable conduct — and the concept of deterrence, namely the need to construct a sentence that sends a message that this behavior will not go unpunished in the hope that it will deter other teenagers from acting this way.”
On the other hand, Medwed said, her relatively young age at the time of the crime, her history of mental health issues and testimony that she was medicated are mitigating factors.
Medwed believes Carter will receive a prison term of at least five years.
“I doubt he’ll throw the (entire) book at her, but probably several hefty chapters,” he said.”
Beyond the views of the experts relating to the possible sentence outcomes, there are also very emotional pleas from the family being heard today as well. These statements are tearfully asking for justice in this case. One such statement was made my Roy’s mother, which included the following:
“There is not one day that I do not mourn the loss of my beloved son, I hope this will save lives some day.”
Roy’s father also explained. The Carter “…exploited my son’s weaknesses and used him as a pawn for her own interests.” A similar feeling was echoed by the state as Assistant District Attorney Maryclare Flynn requested a sentence of seven to 12 years in prison, saying Carter “undertook a deliberate, well thought out campaign … for her own personal gain and quest for attention. She ended (Roy’s) life to better her own.”