Free Michelle Carter, says top civil rights group

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Free Michelle Carter, says top civil rights group

‘Michelle Carter’s conviction should be reversed’

America's leading civil rights organization says Michelle Carter, the young woman who texted her boyfriend to kill himself, should win her appeal next week. Carter was sentenced to 2.5 years for involuntary manslaughter after bombarding her telling Conrad Roy III to end his life.

"You need to stop thinking about this and just do it," she texted him, prompting Roy on suicide techniques. "You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never."

Carter, who was 17 when Roy died in 2014, is fighting to appeal her sentence – she is due in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on October 4th. Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has said that her conviction "should be reversed" and that there is "no precedent" for sentencing someone on an involuntary manslaughter charge based on encouragement alone.

Michelle Carter

The ACLU wrote in an amicus brief that Carter did not have "specific intent" to kill Roy, which is needed to convict on involuntary manslaughter.

"Carter stands convicted of involuntarily committing manslaughter with her words," they said. "This offense does not require, and the judge did not find, a specific intent to cause Roy's death. But even if it were permissible to imprison someone for causing a suicide through encouragement, a finding of specific intent would be required by the First Amendment."

They added interpreting "specific intent" is crucial, as Carter's speech was sent through text messages. "It is not difficult to imagine its utterance on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media forums, where messages are often abbreviated, idiosyncratic, decontextualized, and ambiguous. As such, this speech is susceptible to multiple interpretations, making a specific intent requirement especially important. A single Tweet or Facebook post, stripped from its context, may convey an entirely different message from one situated in the context of all of the relevant facts and circumstances."

Legal experts who spoke to babe similarly predicted that she would likely win on First Amendment grounds – telling someone to take their life still counts as free speech, explained one lawyer.

Carter's attorneys say key evidence was withheld from the trial last year, and that prosecutors "cherry-picked" evidence, leaving out texts that could have swung the outcome. Those texts showed Carter urging Roy to get medical help for his suicidal thoughts. "I'm not giving up on you, it’s just every time I try to help you don’t listen," she said.

At her trial, prosecutors presented texts to paint Carter as "playing a sick game of life and death," driving her boyfriend Roy to suicide. Her appeal will be heard on October 4th.

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