Was involuntary manslaughter the right charge?

EvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for urging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide in 2014, according to a New York Times article.

At the time of Roy’s death, Carter was 17, so she was charged in a juvenile court. The case went to court in Massachusetts. Lawrence Moniz, the Juvenile Court Judge, charged Carter with involuntary manslaughter this June. Carter will be sentenced in August 2018.

Suicide is not something to be taken lightly. When a person is struggling with the thought of killing oneself, they need help from a parent, friend, counselor, or teacher.

In the case of Carter and Roy, the latter had reached out to his girlfriend for help. Instead of reporting Roy’s intentions to the proper authorities, Carter urged Roy forward in his plans to commit suicide. This is where everything went horribly wrong. Roy and Carter began to discuss how and when Roy would commit suicide.

The screenshots of the messages are being spread throughout social media, and people have begun to ask the question, “Was this the right charge?”

Katharine Q. Seelye and Jess Bidgood wrote in their New York Times article “Guilty Verdict for Young Woman Who Urged Friend to Kill Himself,” that Roy was suffering from depression, and had attempted to commit suicide before. A person with suicide needs help; they need someone who is willing to reach out to them and give them the support they need. In Roy’s case, Carter was not this person.

Carter had urged Roy to commit suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning; she even got impatient with Roy when he began to back out of his plans. Once Roy had appropriated a generator, he drove to an empty K-mart parking lot, turned on the generator and sat in the cab of his truck. While the cab filled with carbon monoxide fumes, he continued to message Carter.

At some point during this event, Roy and Carter began to talk to each other over the phone. During this phone call, Roy had exited the vehicle for fear of what would happen once he committed suicide. Carter instructed Roy to get back in the truck; he complied, and soon passed away.

The Washington Post reported that Judge Moniz stated that the action of Carter instructing Roy to get back into the truck was enough to convict her of involuntary manslaughter.

Carter instructed Roy to get back into his truck knowing that he was planning on committing suicide. Though, she did not know that there were enough fumes in the cab to kill him, she still instructed him to return to the cab where he would later die. If she had not told him to get back into the truck, Roy would possibly still be alive today. This negligence on her part was enough for the judge to convict her of involuntary manslaughter.

Involuntary manslaughter is negligence, or recklessness that ends with the loss of a person’s life. By instructing Roy to return to his truck to finish his suicide attempt, Carter had recklessly risked Roy’s life. This act on her part was enough to make her guilty in the eyes of the court, and my eyes as well.

There have been arguments that Roy, being 18 at the time, knew what he was doing, and got back in the truck was of his own free will. Carter had been pushing Roy to commit suicide for quite a while leading up to his death. With this in mind, Roy would have been looking to Carter for help as she was the one who had been there will him during this entire event. Instructing Roy to get back into the vehicle was the wrong thing to do, as he had already changed his mind.

Suicide is a serious topic, and must be dealt with accordingly. If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicide, reach out to Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center at 217-351-2461 or stop by during their office hours in room U267. If you or someone you know needs help immediately, contact the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.