Murder by text, update


The young woman we blogged about who was charged with manslaughter for writing texts that urged her boyfriend to commit suicide was convicted.

She was sentenced to 15 months in prison.  But her punishment was stayed, pending appeal.

Her attorneys persuaded the judge that the conviction may not stand, due to the free speech issues raised by the case.  So the judge is punting the free speech question to the appeals court.

What do you think about the free speech argument?  Does that right cover a woman’s texting someone who attempted suicide in a carbon monoxide-filled car but who changed his mind to “get back in”?

I would say that the young man who died did so by his own hand.  He caused his own death.  He didn’t have to obey his girlfriend’s texts.  They show her depravity, but do you think her words were criminal?

From Woman Who Urged Boyfriend To Commit Suicide Must Serve 15 Months In Prison : The Two-Way : NPR:

Michelle Carter, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for texting her boyfriend and urging him to kill himself, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, with all but 15 months suspended. She will also serve five years of probation.

Carter, 20, was found guilty last month in connection to the 2014 death of Conrad Roy III.

At her sentencing hearing Thursday, Carter’s lawyer asked the judge to “spare his client any jail time and instead give her five years of probation and require her to receive mental health counseling,” The Associated Press reports.

Lawyer Joseph Cataldo said that “Carter was struggling with mental health issues of her own — bulimia, anorexia and depression — during the time she urged Roy to kill himself,” the wire service writes.

[Keep reading. . .]


From Bob McGovern, Free Speech May Mean Free Pass for Michelle Carter, Boston Herald:

The First Amendment and the winding road of the appellate process are the only things keeping ­Michelle Carter out of jail.

And the constitutional issue may be what sets her free forever.

Carter, who yesterday was sentenced to 2 1⁄2 years behind bars — with only 15 months to actually serve — was given a last-second reprieve by Judge Lawrence Moniz. He held off on the punishment at the behest of Carter’s attorneys who argued that she shouldn’t be jailed for a conviction that may not stick.

“This is a novel case involving speech,” said Joseph Cataldo, Carter’s lead attorney. “These are legitimate issues that are worthy of presentation to the appeals court.”

The crux of the argument is that Carter didn’t commit a crime when she convinced Conrad Roy III, through texts and phone calls, to get back in his truck as it filled with deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Her communications, according to Cataldo, were protected by the First Amendment.

Illustration from Pixabay, Creative Commons

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