A 20-year-old American woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Friday for pushing her teenage boyfriend to kill himself, in a decision likely to break new legal ground.
Michelle Carter broke down in tears and sobbed into a tissue when Judge Lawrence Moniz read out the verdict at a brief hearing in the court in Taunton, south of Boston in Massachusetts.
“This court, having reviewed the evidence, now finds you guilty on the indictment charging you with involuntary manslaughter,” Moniz told the court.
Carter, who waived her right to a jury trial, faces up to 20 years in prison. She is due to be sentenced on August 3.
Conrad Roy, 18, was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup truck in a parking lot in July 2014.
The trial heard that Carter and Roy exchanged hundreds of text messages in which Carter urged him to follow through on his plan to kill himself, urged him to conceal it from his parents, lie to his mother and select a secluded parking lot.
While legal experts say Carter may have encouraged him to take his own life, they had questioned whether it is enough to secure a conviction under involuntary manslaughter.
The northeastern state of Massachusetts, unlike other US states, has no law against encouraging someone to commit suicide.
The defense argued that Roy had been on a path to suicide “for years” and sought to minimize Carter’s role in her boyfriend’s life, saying the pair were in a “long-term texting relationship” and had met in person only a handful of times.
Carter’s case was tried in a juvenile court because she was a minor at the time.