- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2020

The Supreme Court declined to take up Michelle Carter’s appeal Monday after the young woman challenged her conviction related to encouraging her boyfriend’s suicide.

The case garnered national attention, testing the limits over when someone could be held accountable for encouraging suicide.

Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Massachusetts after encouraging her boyfriend over the phone to take his own life in 2014. She had asked the justices to take up her case and overturn the conviction.

Conrad Roy III, at age 18, took his life by poisoning himself with carbon monoxide in his truck in a parking lot in Fairhaven.

Roy and Carter, then 17 years old, had built a long-distance relationship since meeting two years earlier and spoke regularly — including about suicide.

In the days leading up to Roy’s death, they strategized about it over the phone.

In one exchange, when Roy expressed reluctance, Carter replied: “I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way.”

As he sat in his truck he spoke again with Carter, who was 50 miles away. At one point he got out of the truck to get fresh air, but Carter told Roy to “get back in,” according to court records.

The trial judge found that Carter knew the truck had become a “toxic” environment when she told Roy to get back in and could hear him coughing as he inhaled the exhaust emissions.

Because she did not call for help or tell Roy to stop, she had engaged in wanton and reckless conduct that caused the victim’s death, amounting to involuntary manslaughter, the judge ruled. Carter was sentenced to serve 15 months.

Carter’s lawyers, in their appeal to the Supreme Court last year, had argued their client’s words were protected by the First Amendment and weren’t “speech integral to criminal conduct,” as the trial judge had found.

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