Michelle Carter trial: New evidence presented at appeal in teen texting suicide case
Michelle is trying to overturn her sentence
Michelle Carter, the young woman sentenced in the texting suicide case, is fighting for an appeal today. Found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, she was given 2.5 years after texting her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to kill himself. He died aged 18.
Her lawyers are arguing in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overturn her sentence, saying prosecutors withheld key evidence from her 2017 trial. They are trying to presented a different image of Michelle than what was seen last year – she was painted as a reckless murderer playing "a sick game of life and death."
Texts were shown between Michelle and Conrad, in which she gave him encouragement to take his life and advice on how to do it. "You need to stop thinking about this and just do it," she messaged him. "You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never."
Michelle's lawyer argued this morning that Michelle was falsely presented for making a suicide plan and urging Conrad to act on it. A text discussed at the original trial that she sent him said "Get back in," referring to Conrad hesitating just before he took his own life.
Today Daniel Marx, defending Michelle, said this was not a message she sent Conrad but something she claimed to a girl friend after the fact. "This is a long, rambling text to a friend, in which there was a single phrase saying 'get back in.'"
An excerpt of the text Michelle sent her friend Samantha Boardman said: "I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I fucking told him to get back in."
He added that Michelle tried to get Conrad, a boy she was in love with, professional help for his suicidal thoughts. "She was struggling to help out a boy who she considered to be her boyfriend," Marx said. "Now in retrospect, it may have been a mistake, going along with him and hoping he'd see what he was doing was stupid and may have been a poor choice, but it was not involuntary manslaughter."
Prosecutors seeking to uphold Michelle's conviction have presented texts to show she did want him to die. After he tried to take his life in an earlier incident, she initially messaged him to say: "I didn't mean it, this is not how you say goodbye." But that was when she thought he was dead. When he woke up and texted her to say he was still alive, she angrily responded: "I feel played, I thought you were serious. I don't believe you. You're gonna have to prove it to me."
Last month, lawyers who have studied Michelle's case told babe she is likely to win her appeal. Norman Pattis, a New England trial lawyer, said that Carter's case is "extremely close," but that she would come out on top. "On balance she should win," he said. "Her speech was repulsive and her conduct despicable but she did not cause the young man’s death. The First Amendment protects speech; even violent speech."
New texts presented at the appeal
"I'm worried" – Michelle to Conrad, in what Marx says was one of many "frantic calls, emails and texts" after their final conversation.
"I never thought he would actually do it" – Michelle to a friend after Conrad's death, which Marx used as evidence to suggest she did not expect or want Conrad to die.
"Google ways to kill yourself" – Michelle to Conrad, which Marx says is not evidence that she had a clear plan or useful suggestions on how to take his life.
"I tried to kill myself and I'm going to succeed next time" – Conrad to Michelle, which Marx says was evidence that Conrad had suicidal thoughts regardless of what Michelle texted him.
"I feel played, I thought you were serious. I don't believe you. You're gonna have to prove it to me." – Michelle to Conrad after he tried to take his life in an earlier incident. Prosecutors mentioned this to show that Michelle wanted him to die.
Arguments for both sides have now been made. More to follow.