Commonwealth v Michelle Carter #WickedWednesday #TrueCrimeFile

It’s the very first #WickedWednesday, where we sit down and chat about a case, whether it’s that of a cult leader, cold case or even miscarriages of justice. We love our true crime AND we love our podcasts, all podcasts or articles we’ve read will be linked at the end of the post.

Background and timeline of events

Our first case is that of Commonwealth v Michelle Carter and the death of Conrad Roy Jr, one that swooped into the public eye and has drawn attention after recent Sky Crime documentary I Love You, Now Die. This case looks into the suicide (remember that for later) of 18 year old American Conrad Roy Jr via carbon monoxide poisoning on July 13, 2014. His 17 year old girlfriend, Michelle Carter, was later arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter due to her encouragement of his suicide via text messages on the 16th of June 2017, almost 3 years later. This case became well known in Massachusetts as the ‘texting suicide case.’

Have a little look at this definition of involuntary manslaughter – it’ll come in useful later on in our post.

Involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unintentional killing that results either from criminal negligence or the commission of a low-level criminal act such as a misdemeanor. Involuntary manslaughter is distinguished from other forms of homicide because it does not require deliberation or premeditation, or intent. Because neither of these mental states is required, involuntary manslaughter is the lowest level category of homicide.

Conrad Roy had seen numerous mental health professionals, as well as showing signs of suicidal behaviour, in which he had been prescribed psychiatric medication. It was believed that Michelle, who was also taking psychiatric medication, coerced Conrad to kill himself, on the basis of her final phone call in which she ordered Roy, after he had become scared, to go back inside his truck as it filled with lethal carbon monoxide.

That’s the introduction to our today’s True Crime case, the question is, did Michelle deserve to be incarcerated for this crime, or would Conrad have committed suicide whether or not Michelle had been involved. Make yourself a cuppa, sit back and let us share what we think.

Firstly, we are going to kick off with a timeline of events, as shown in the documentary of this case I Love You Now Die. [Reference 1]

July 12
9:03 a.m. (as shown in “I Love You, Now Die”)
“Are you awake?” Carter texted Roy. He replied affirmatively.
“Are you gonna do it today?” she asked him.
He said yes before they discussed what time would be best.

9:45 a.m.
Roy continued to express his misery and doubts, texting her, “idk [I don’t know] why I’m like this.”
“Sometimes things happen and we never have the answers why,” Carter offered as advice.
He said he was hesitant to which Carter responded, “You’re so hesitant because you keep overthinking it and pushing it off. You just need to do it Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you.”
“You’re right [sic],” he replied.
Carter went on to insist, “If you want it as bad as you say you do its [sic] time to do it today.”
He then thanked her for being there for him. She responded, “I would never leave you, you’re the love of my life, my boyfriend. You’re my heart, I’d never leave you.”
At some point that day, Roy told Conrad he would do it eventually, according to CNN.
“I really don’t know what I’m waiting for,” he texted her. “But I have everything lined up.”
“No, you’re not, Conrad,” Carter stated. “Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don’t take action… You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it.”
She then sent the following texts:
“And u can say you’ll do it tomorrow but you probably won’t”
“You just need to do it Conrad or I’m gonna get you help”
“You can’t keep doing this everyday.”
Roy told her he would do it. Carter asked “Do you promise” and he said he promised.
“And u can’t break a promise,” Carter wrote. “And just go in a quiet parking lot or something.”

5:00 p.m.
Carter texted him and asked, “Are you gonna do it now?”
He told her he was stressing out.
“You’re fine, it’s gonna be okay. You just gotta do it babe, you can’t think about it,” Carter wrote.

6:19 p.m.
“Are you gonna do it now,” Carter asked yet again.
He said he was leaving the house.

6:28 p.m.
Roy called Carter and they spoke for almost 43 minutes.

7:12 p.m.
According to call logs obtained by “I Love You, Now Die” they spoke for another 47 minutes.
That was the last phone call Roy ever made.
Carter would later text a friend and tell her Roy had told her he had doubts and was getting out of the car, but she told him to get back in.

July 13
Roy’s body was found inside the truck at the Kmart parking lot.
After a tumultuous trial, Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two and a half years prison time on August 3, 2017. She was ordered to begin serving her 15-month sentence in February after the state Supreme Court refused to overturn the conviction.
Carter appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court earlier this month.

It must be stated that the prosecution’s case rested almost entirely on a text message conversation between the two. The question is, is this sufficient?

In a nutshell, Michelle Carter was convicted after she gave up her right of a jury trial, to the involuntary manslaughter of her boyfriend Conrad Roy. This is an interesting case because it shows manipulation, the use of encouragement through text messages and phone calls alone, not to mention the fact that two families lives have changed forever. We hope that you’ll share your thoughts in the comments – was Michelle Carter responsible for Conrad’s death? Would he have committed suicide without her alleged coercion? Was it voluntary manslaughter? Grab your cuppa now, settle in and see what we think!

*We’ve used mainly podcasts and some online articles as research, if we have the wrong information, please feel free to correct us. We will provide a list of sources at the end of the page*

Discussions

D: Well, this is a hell of a case, after mulling it over for the past few weeks, I still do not know how I feel. My biggest issue with the whole case is that both Michelle and Carter had aspects of a toxic personality then when they came together it became fatal and tragic. Michelle, for example, during some parts of the trial, I couldn’t help feel a bit for her. I’m in no doubt she intended for watchers to feel that way but what brought her down this path? Michelle (who will be referred to as MC) had a long history of mental illness. This girl was 17, socially lonely and on various psychiatric drugs, including Prozac and Celexa, antidepressants that she took between 2011 and 2014. There were aspects of the case that made her sound like the culprit behind Conrad’s death with the power of her persuasion, but MC isn’t a cult leader, she showed no early signs of this level of sociopathy and there were certainly other parts of the case that were questionable. So, that’s MC, what information have you got for us about Conrad Roy (CR) Amy?

A: Now this is an interesting one. As is usual, there is always more information on the alleged perpetrator of the crime than the victim. This is the society we live in. However, from what information there is available, it appears as though Conrad experienced a pretty difficult life before his death in 2014. He was born on the 12th of September 1995 and similarly to MC, he has been described as being socially anxious, particularly at school, though he was very active in sports. He also appears to have been an intelligent young man – graduating high school with a 3.8 GPA (which roughly translates to A’s for those of us in the UK).

Here is some information on CR’s mental health. He had, in the course of his life, had various counsellors and therapists, even participating in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the weeks before his death. As with MC, he was also taking Celexa (an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class. It is used to treat major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia). Court papers suggest that he was both physically and verbally abused by his father and paternal grandfather and following his parents divorce in 2012, CR attempted suicide.

D: As you can already imagine, this relationship was a super intense one, after meeting two years prior to Conrad’s death the couple only met a handful of times in person – they lived 35 miles apart. Their relationship was built with the use of texts, emails and calls.? Either way, over the two years they had sent thousands of texts to one another, enough to fill 317 pages, confiding in one another and building upon a relationship.

As already stated, CR had serious mental issues and not the best relationship with his father, he had a history of suicidal behaviour, so did MC just get caught up in this fatal spider web or did she pray on his vulnerability? The text messages exchanged between the couple was the main source of evidence, and although they sound pretty damning, in what context were they written? Just an example, Jim Jones, the head of the People’s Temple cult used to initiate ‘White Nights’, a weapon used to brainwash and test the loyalty of his congregation. At one part of the above timeline conversation, MC says:

“You just need to do it Conrad or I’m gonna get you help”
“You can’t keep doing this everyday.”

Was she becoming mentally exhausted Conrad, someone she thought she loved, constantly talking about taking his own life – how did that affect MC emotionally and mentally? Was she sick of it and just wanted him either to do it, or did she just want this back and forth to end? Maybe this is a case of an unusual case of relationship violence, an expert witness Dr Peter Breggin told how Celexa (one of the drugs MC had taken for depression) had lead her down a path of manic-depression, in which she would experience auditory hallucinations via the voice of the Devil. When asked about the relationship dynamic of CR and MC, he argued that CR was the dominant in the relationship. He also stated that RC had used MC vulnerability to coerce her into supporting his suicidal plan. After immense research, Breggin had changed his sanity testimony, to MC being not in her right mind, due to involuntary intoxication of the drugs that she had been taking. See what I mean about this case being not completely cut and dry? [Reference 2] That being said, there’s two sides to every story!

A: This has been a great case for us to start off on, because it’s caused much discussion and disagreement in the Over Our Read Body camp. We both come from very different backgrounds and this is evident in the way we have approached this case. I’m coming from the legal perspective (law degree ongoing blah blah blah) and D is coming from the forensic perspective, with her degree in forensic sciences. I shall now attempted to discuss some of the questions D has posed above – so bare with me. Was MC mentally exhausted? I have no doubt that she absolutely was. I understand that it can be exhausting to be in a relationship with some that has significant mental health problems, while also suffering with your own. It takes a toll. Did she want him to do it? Now this for me I suppose – and bare with me while I explain my reasoning – a mute point. If you take a look at the definition of involuntary manslaughter above, you’ll see that the prosecution does not need to prove intent – merely recklessness. Which, in my opinion, the do. While MC did have mental health problems, nowhere does it state that she had any learning difficulties to suggest that she was unaware that death was a possible outcome of her telling CR to get back in the car. Was it a toxic relationship. Yes, I believe it was. It is my opinion that it is a possibility that they triggered each other’s mental health. As for the clinical psychologist, had Michelle not been fit to stand trial or fit to plead, then she would not have been allowed to do so.

D: As you can see, I’ve been the sympathiser in MC’s corner, but like I said at the beginning, the whole case just doesn’t sit well with me. The motive, the reason why she never contacted CR’s parents to tell them that their son was suicidal and why she didn’t just walk away from the relationship but rather revealed in the grieving girlfriend role after the matter. After CR’s death, Michelle text a friend and said that she could have stopped him, called the police, etc but she did not! This for me shows some malice, indicating that MC knew exactly what she was doing.

The defence argued that it’s impossible to push someone into taking their own life, refer back to my Jim Jones comment, if an individual is that manipulative then yes, yes they can. I’ve covered my thoughts about MC’s sanity and her toxic relationship with CR, but he did get out of his truck, rang MC and she told him to get back in the truck and do kill himself. But and this is when I struggle, it’s the fact that she wasn’t physically at the scene.

On that point, I can see why the prosecution absolutely saw her as an evil manipulator, hiding behind her tears. I was watching the HBO documentary ‘I Love You, Now Die’ while messaging Amy (obviously) and one message that I stand by is one where I felt she had a slight Munchausen by Proxy feel about her. If you’re not aware of this psychiatric illness, it’s when an individual deliberately acts physically or mentally ill to gain some sort of attention. In this case, it could be possible that both RC and MC could have some aspects of this disorder (I’m not indicating that they had this disorder). For example, CR would constantly describe his suicide to MC, was it some sort of call for help or a way for him to manipulate her to love him – he didn’t have a close relationship with his parents so he possibly craved a personal connection through these means. Whereas, MC would text girls she considered friends with messages like ‘Conrad is missing’ to see what their reactions would be, as well as exchanging messages with Conrad’s sister and mother about him missing AFTER she knew he was dead. These are the aspects of the case I find difficult to feel she’s innocent, she basically used the aftermath of CR’s death to gain attention, sympathy and friends. For example, organising a charity day in the name of Conrad in her hometown with her ‘friends’ and family…. odd huh? MC portrayed herself as the grieving sweetheart, yet the only time that she shed a tear was when she was found guilty AND can we just ask why the hell, if you were ‘innocent’ would you forgo your right to a jury trial? Is it due to the fear of being found guilty of murder? A longer sentence? Did someone coerce her into giving up that right? We’ll never know.

A: There is so much we can speculate about with this case, because there are still so many unanswered questions, as D has illustrated above. Will we ever know whether it had been MC’s intent all along to push CR to commit suicide? Was she the victim in all of this? Honestly, D & I could have written another 3 and a half thousand words on this case, probably even more, but for the sake of your insanity, we’ve tried to keep it to the most crucial information. Of course there are probably a lot of things missing here, and if you stop anything glaringly obvious, please let us know! There is also a change we’ll revisit this if there are any significant changes in future.

Conclusions

D: My conclusion is that, I don’t know, I seriously don’t know how to feel about Michelle Carter and her involvement into Conrad Roy’s suicide. I’m on the fence! I suppose that part of me thinks she deserved to be convicted because we will never know if Conrad would still be alive if she hadn’t egged him on, if she had taken a different route to ‘help’ him with his issues. Was this relationship ever going have a happy outcome? I don’t think so, I think that if Conrad hadn’t have committed suicide whether coerced or not this relationship could have violently imploded somehow. I think that both MC and CR connected due to feeling they were outcasts amongst their peers, I think they attracted one another due to the negativity they both embodied which created a highly toxic relationship. I also agree with A’s belief that Michelle should have been given her sentence in a mental health facility rather that a prison. I don’t think that we will ever actually know what happened between these two and there are endless ‘what ifs’ but what I am sure of is when Michelle Carter is released in May 2020 that some of the questions that have been left unanswered will finally be answered.

I don’t think that we will ever actually know what happened between these two and there are endless ‘what ifs’ but what I am sure of is when Michelle Carter is released in May 2020 that some of the questions that have been left unanswered will finally be answered.

A: As you’ll see if you’ve managed to make it all the way through this monumental post, D & I have different opinions on this. I believe that MC was rightly convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Having said this, I think MC has a myriad of mental health problems that warrant mental health treatment over prison. I won’t even begin talking about my thoughts on the US prison system – I would write a thesis on the damn thing and all of its flaws. Would CR be alive today had he not met MC? I have no idea, maybe not. But I completely agree with D, this was a toxic relationship formed on the shared experiences of two socially isolated young people with mental health issues.

Thanks for reading our first true crime Blogcast post, we hope that you’ll join us next time!

Love A & D


References

The True Geordie Podcast: Episode #120 I Love You, Now Die
Martinis and Murder podcast: Episode #139 Did Michelle Carter kill Conrad?
I Love You, Now Die HBO documentary

Poll – Next crime file case?

Lacey Spears
A blogger who was convicted of murdering her son Garnett, after poisoning him with salt – claimed he suffered a variety of health issues, including cystic fibrosis. diabetes and cerebral palsy – subjected him to over 325 medical procedures. A case of Munchausen by Proxy.

Unsolved case of Keddie Murders of California
1981, Three people, a mother, her son and son’s friend were found bludgeoned to death in a California cabin – a 4th victim, 12 year old daughter vanished in the night, her remains were found years later, miles away from the cabin. A cold case.

The death of Elisa Lam
The body of Elisa Lam, a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was recovered from a water tank atop the (infamous) Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on February 19, 2013. Interest in the case increased prior to her body’s discovery when the LAPD CCTV footage show her exiting and re-entering the elevator, talking and gesturing in the hallway outside, and sometimes seeming to hide within the elevator, which itself appears to be malfunctioning. Creep as heck. A cold case.

The Murder of Helle Crafts
Helle Crafts was a Danish flight attendant murdered by her husband, airline pilot Richard Crafts, in 1986. Her death led to the first murder conviction in Connecticut without the victim’s body.

4 Comments

  1. waitingforthenewsystem

    This one was interesting , for many reasons , but as an observer , I think it was Murder plain and simple , Here is my premise , a Type 2 Narcissist , with a Machiavellian darkness hidden , would love to see someone suffer , but they maintain the appearance of innocence to the general public … The Type 2 Narc is mistaken as an introvert , and comes of as soft , but that is not what is inside …I have dealt with one before , they can make life a living hell .
    To use the expression ” I love you , you are my heart , my soul , now go do this ” his only option to please her is to do it ……

    She was taunting him ……. She wanted to see it ,…. to have someone die for her ….
    It is premeditated …. it is Machiavellian , it is evil . It was murder .

    Like

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