Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts woman who was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend via text messages and phone calls to kill himself, will remain in prison after her parole was denied Friday.
Carter, 22, who began serving a 15-month jail sentence this February, appeared at a parole hearing Thursday to seek early release from prison. However, the parole board said it was "troubled" that Carter had not only encouraged her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself but also "actively prevented others in intervening in his suicide."
After Carter was found guilty two years ago, the trial judge, Lawrence Moniz, allowed her to remain free until her state appeals were exhausted.
Carter began her sentence in the Bristol County House of Corrections, but in July she was moved out of the facility. The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office refused to provide details on where or why she was transferred. However, she was sent back to the facility after her parole was denied. Her release date is March 13, 2020.
The parole board said that Carter's "self-serving statements and behavior" before and after Roy's suicide in 2014 "appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity."
The board added that Carter's appeal for early release did not provide enough insight into the reasons for her "lack of empathy" at the time of Roy's death and after his suicide.
Her lawyer, Daniel Marx, declined to comment Friday.
"She has been a model inmate," Jonathan Darling, a spokesperson for the Bristol County Sheriff, told BuzzFeed News on Friday.
He said that Carter attended programs at the jail, had no discipline issues, and was polite to staff, volunteers, and other inmates.
In July, Carter's lawyers appealed to the US Supreme Court to review her conviction in the landmark case that got national attention and was the subject of a recent HBO documentary.
Convicting Carter for urging 18-year-old Roy to kill himself “based on her words alone” violated her First Amendment right to free speech, her lawyers said in the petition.
They also argued that the conviction of involuntary manslaughter in “morally fraught cases involving suicide” violated Carter’s Fifth Amendment right to due process.
The Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on whether to review her case and is awaiting the prosecutor’s response to Carter’s petition.
“Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy’s tragic death and should not be held criminally responsible for his suicide,” Marx said previously.
Carter and Roy, who lived in different towns, began dating in 2011 and communicated mostly thought texts and phone calls.
In the two weeks before Roy’s death, Carter sent him a series of texts encouraging him to kill himself and admonishing him when he expressed reluctance.
Carter asked Roy when he was going to kill himself more than 40 times, prosecutors said during her trial.
Roy — who had a history of mental illness and had previously made attempts on his own life — killed himself July 12, 2014.
At the time, Carter was 50 miles away in her Plainville home, but spoke to Roy twice over the phone. While there are no records to verify what the two of them spoke about, prosecutors pointed to a text message that Carter sent one of her friends months after Roy’s death.
In part of the message to Samantha Boardman, Carter said, “Sam his death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him I was on the phone with him.”
“Sam because I knew he would do it all over again the next day and I couldnt have him live the way he was living anymore I couldnt do it I wouldnt let him,” a part of the text said.
Her attorney, Joseph Cataldo, argued during the trial that Carter was a 17-year-old “dealing with her own mental health issues” and was on antidepressants at the time of Roy’s suicide. Cataldo pointed to Roy’s long history of "suicidality and suicidal ideation” before he met Carter.
"This was a suicide," Cataldo said. "A sad and tragic suicide. But it was not a homicide."
Judge Moniz found Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter based on her refusal to call for help.
Her lawyers then appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overthrow her conviction, arguing that Moniz’s guilty verdict relied heavily on Carter’s single text message to Boardman that served as an “uncorroborated confession.”
However, the state’s highest court refused to overturn her conviction, ruling that the evidence against her proved that her “wanton and reckless conduct” caused Roy’s death.
The US Supreme Court will now decide whether to review that court’s decision.