Death by Text: The case against Michelle Carter

A Massachusetts judge announced his verdict Friday in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michelle Carter for the death of her 18-year-old friend, Conrad Roy. After Roy took his own life in July 2014, investigators found thousands of texts from Carter on his phone, many of them encouraging him to kill himself.

Carter and Roy met in 2012. Though they lived an hour apart in Massachusetts, they communicated almost exclusively via texts, online and by phone. The case, which was being followed nationwide, hinges on the power of words – Michelle Carter’s words – and whether they could be deadly.

At the heart of the case is the question of whether Michelle Carter’s texts and messages pushed Conrad Roy to take his life, or if he would have done it anyway?

On June 13, 2014, Conrad Roy recorded a video of himself on his computer. In the video, he discussed his battle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and social anxiety.  At one point, he said, “I need to be comfortable in my skin.  And in order to be comfortable in my skin, I have to just be happy and live with myself for who I am: Conrad Roy III.”

One month before 18-year-old Conrad Roy took his own life, when the minds of many teens wander to carefree summer days, Conrad’s thoughts were more serious and introspective:

Conrad Roy [on video talking to computer]: It’s not realistic what’s going on in my head that keeps on piling and piling and piling.

Conrad Roy [on video talking to computer]: I need to be comfortable in my skin.

Sitting at his computer in his home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Conrad recorded his thoughts on coping with his depression.

Conrad Roy [on video talking to computer]: I need to relax. I really do.

Lynn Roy: He wanted to excel. He was — just wanted to … be this, like, great person. But in my eyes, he was all that.

In her only television interview, Conrad’s mother, Lynn Roy,…

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