Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, June 16, 2017

TAUNTON, Mass. -- A young woman who sent a barrage of text messages to another teenager urging him to kill himself was found guilty Friday of involuntary manslaughter in a case that many legal experts had expected to result in an acquittal.

The verdict, handed down by a judge in a nonjury trial, was a rare legal finding that, essentially, a person's words alone can directly cause someone else's suicide.

The judge, Lawrence Moniz, of Bristol County Juvenile Court in southeastern Massachusetts, said the conduct of the woman, Michelle Carter, toward Conrad Roy III was not only immoral but illegal. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

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The judge got it right.

#1 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-06-16 11:59 AM | Reply

I don't know about this one. Involuntary manslaughter for telling someone over and over again to kill themselves? I would hate for this kind of weird, out-lier case to set a precedent for any future prosecutions.

#2 | Posted by moder8 at 2017-06-16 12:00 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Telling someone to kill themselves is awful, but it's not manslaughter. The precedent this sets is dangerous.

Emotionally distraught people often threaten suicide or self-harm. It's a form of emotional blackmail and control. If they make that threat often enough, a loved one might break down and call their bluff in a weak moment. Are all those people guilty of manslaughter if it happens?

#3 | Posted by rcade at 2017-06-16 12:22 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2


... a person's words alone can directly cause someone else's suicide ...

I'm still struggling with this one.

From what I've read about this particular case, I lean towards agreeing with the judge.

But I have a longer concern about the type of precedent this new legal ground will create.

It's going to take more than just one case before I understand enough about this area.

#4 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-06-16 12:25 PM | Reply

I have to agree with Rcade and Moder8 on this. Now I must go shower I feel dirty.

#5 | Posted by patron at 2017-06-16 12:32 PM | Reply

This will officially criminalize bullying but don't see how it holds under appeal.

#6 | Posted by fresno500 at 2017-06-16 12:35 PM | Reply

Seems like a really weak case. Does this mean that if one tell someone else to go play in traffic or go jump off of a bridge, that one is guilty of manslaughter if the someone actually does it?

#7 | Posted by Corky at 2017-06-16 12:35 PM | Reply

I agree with the sentiments re: this case possibly setting a very bad precendent.

But this girl didn't just tell this guy to kill himself a few times. If you read their exchanges, she really urged him to kill himself numerous times.

What I don't get is how what she did is "involuntary". If she's being convicted for urging the guy to kill himself, she certainly did it on purpose.

#8 | Posted by Sully at 2017-06-16 12:40 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"This court finds that instructing Mr. Roy to 'get back in' the truck constitutes wanton and reckless conduct by Ms. Carter," the judge said.

He said Carter had a duty to call someone for help when she knew Roy was attempting suicide. Yet she did not call the police or Roy's family, he noted."

"She did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck," the judge said.Carter's lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, argued Roy had a history of depression and suicide attempts and was determined to end his own life. He said Carter initially tried to talk Roy out of it and urged him to get professional help, but eventually went along with his plan.

The judge disagreed, saying he did not take into account in his verdict Roy's previous attempts at suicide."

"An involuntary manslaughter charge can be brought in Massachusetts when someone causes the death of another person when engaging in reckless or wanton conduct that creates a high degree of likelihood of substantial harm.

The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the conviction, saying it "exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions."

Matthew Segal, the ACLU's legal director for Massachusetts, called Roy's suicide tragic but said, "It is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution."

excerpts (if you used up your NYTimes views this month and can't view the thread link, see below")

abcnews.go.com

#9 | Posted by Corky at 2017-06-16 12:42 PM | Reply

Emotionally distraught people often threaten suicide or self-harm. It's a form of emotional blackmail and control. If they make that threat often enough, a loved one might break down and call their bluff in a weak moment. Are all those people guilty of manslaughter if it happens?

#3 | Posted by rcade at 2017-06-16 12:22 PM | Reply | Flag:

Years ago, there was a customer service guy in my office who would do this constantly. He was fired for cause with one of his numerous offenses being telling irate callers he was going to kill himself as a way of getting them to back down. When one of the partners told him he was fired, this is more or less what happened:

Partner: Sorry but we're going to have to let you go, we just can't have you saying these things to callers and we've given you enough chances to cut it out. We won't report it as being for cause, so you can collect unemployment....

Horrible Employee: Awe man. I'm such a loser. Nobody likes me. Now I don't even have a job. I'm going to kill myself.

Partner: Well uh, I'll tell you what, we'll give you ah, two weeks severence pay as well....

Horrible Employee: I should just do it. I'm going to kill myself...

Partner: You know what, we could probably do four weeks...

Horrible Employee: I am going to do it.

Partner: Six weeks... I'll make sure you get six weeks severence and you can also collect unemployment.

Horrible Employee: Really? Thanks! Hey, stay in touch....

The dude was fired for intentionally doing stuff that he knew was harming the business after having been given multiple chances to shape up. And he was still able to weasel six weeks severence out of the deal on top of the undeserved unemployment payments. Of course it only worked because the threat made alot of sense coming from him...

#10 | Posted by Sully at 2017-06-16 12:55 PM | Reply

@#7 ... Does this mean that if one tell someone else to go play in traffic or go jump off of a bridge, that one is guilty of manslaughter if the someone actually does it? ...

There's a lot more to this particular case.

That's why I'm undecided for now.

If there is some central tenet that is the underlying basis for a judgment like this one, it will take more than just this one case to find it.

#11 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-06-16 01:09 PM | Reply

Sully: That's exactly the kind of person I was talking about.

Some people get extremely emotionally upset and can't handle it, so they claim they are going to self-harm. When this gets them something they want, it becomes a strategy.

Sometimes it's just a "pay attention to how much I'm hurting!" move. Other times it's to control a loved one, like when a domestic abuser whose spouse threatens to leave uses a suicide threat to keep them.

It's such a common emotional ploy that this verdict scares me.

#12 | Posted by rcade at 2017-06-16 01:19 PM | Reply

As someone who has attempted suicide a few times in my past I can't find her guilty. Even if someone egged me on I was 100% responsible for my actions. The Judge IMO is wrong here.

#13 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2017-06-16 01:21 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

He said Carter had a duty to call someone for help when she knew Roy was attempting suicide.

I'm interested in the source of this duty. We have no general duty to be a Good Samaritan, we can simply walk on by. Nor do we have a general duty to report crime. So, what is the source of the duty found by the court? Hopefully, a written decision will be released.

The Free Speech aspect troubles me also. I favor very broad principles of expression. However, encouraging someone to kill themselves pushes against the prohibition of inciting violence. Again hopefully, a written decision will be released.

#14 | Posted by et_al at 2017-06-16 01:58 PM | Reply

If they make that threat often enough, a loved one might break down and call their bluff in a weak moment.

----

She did it repeatedly.

#15 | Posted by Pirate at 2017-06-16 02:08 PM | Reply

Read some of these text messages:

www.cnn.com

#16 | Posted by Pirate at 2017-06-16 02:09 PM | Reply

Reading through the texts (linked in Pirate's #16).

It seems like this was going on for a long time. Just the sample of texts provided span a month. I'm sure it was going on before. I'm sure they had many many conversations about this in person. It seems like the girl was trying to help him.

Carter: "But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don't think it would but I'm telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life"

But after a certain point. (Like RCade and Sully mention). The question becomes whether he's serious or whether it's simply for attention.

The boy clearly didn't want to get help. Refusing the suggestions to seek help because.

Roy: "I can't get better I already made my decision."

She does start goading him more as time passes by. But. I'm pretty sure at this point she had become desensitized to his claims. And she was probably calling his bluff.

Where were Roy's parents this whole time? Why was Roy so depressed and suicidal? Carter didn't make him suicidal. But unfortunately. She had to bear the weight of Roy's mental illness. As a teenager. I'm positive she wasn't mentally prepared to deal with Roy's condition.

As a person. Who's had one of my best friends commit suicide. I will tell you. 100%. You can't blame anyone. Not even the person who committed the act. It's a tragedy. And trying to punish other people for someone's self inflicted actions. Is an absolute mistake.

#18 | Posted by ClownShack at 2017-06-16 02:47 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

"Telling someone to kill themselves is awful, but it's not manslaughter. The precedent this sets is dangerous."

If this creates precedent, then the status quo, being able to tell someone to do something that you know will result in their death, and not bear any responsibility for their death when they do it, seems nonsensical to me.

Should I be able to dare little kids to run across the highway?

#19 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-06-18 10:06 PM | Reply

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