Judge orders Michelle Carter to begin serving sentence
TAUNTON — Michelle Carter, the young woman who egged her boyfriend on to commit suicide and whose encouragements were documented in a series of chilling texts, was ordered Monday to begin serving her 15-month jail sentence.
Despite last-minute arguments by Carter’s lawyer that she should remain free while she seeks to bring an appeal to the US Supreme Court, a Bristol County Juvenile Court judge said, “Ms. Carter will now be taken into custody.” She was led from the courtroom by a bailiff. The hearing lasted only a few minutes.
Carter, sporting a short haircut and cream-colored suit jacket, was taken into custody after a brief hearing in the Taunton Trial Court.
Judge Lawrence Moniz rejected one final request from Joseph P. Cataldo, a lawyer for Carter, to allow her to remain free while her legal team seeks review by the US Supreme Court.
“This case legally is not over,” Cataldo said, adding that First Amendment arguments “are still ripe” and properly addressed as “federal questions.”
Carter was 17 years old and had been out of a psychiatric hospital for about a month when she urged her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, 18, to commit suicide on July 13, 2014, according to testimony in her Bristol Juvenile Court trial in 2017.
Assistant Bristol District Attorney Maryclare Flynn told reporters outside court on Monday that the hearing had been “a long time coming” and thanked Fairhaven police and Roy’s family.
“As always our sympathies remain with the family of Conrad Henry Roy III,” Flynn said. “We are very content with what happened today” in court.
Carter’s parents left court with a police escort and declined to comment.
Speaking on behalf of the Roy family outside court, his aunt Becky Maki also thanked police and prosecutors and said the case “has been a four-year ordeal for our family. . . . It’s been hard to live out the details of his death over and over again.”
Roy’s passing, she said, is “something that hasn’t left our minds.”
“We feel that justice has been served,” Maki said. “ . . . We know that this is a novel case, and there’s a lot of debate on whether or not Michelle Carter would go to jail for what happened.”
Roy’s aunt said the family was grateful the court found “that this is something that shouldn’t happen” and “hopefully it won’t ever happen again.”
“Conrad will be forever missed,” Maki said, describing Carter as someone her nephew confided in but who “steered him in the wrong direction.”
“His life mattered,” Maki said, becoming emotional as she spoke into a cluster of microphones. “It mattered to us and I think it mattered to” others, as well.
“Conrad, we love you,” she said.
Earlier Monday, the state Supreme Judicial Court denied Carter’s last-ditch request for an extended stay of her sentence.
The Massachusetts high court last Wednesday had upheld Carter’s involuntary manslaughter conviction and sentence, ruling that she acted with criminal intent when she “badgered” Roy into killing himself.
The court rejected arguments that her text messages and cellphone calls with Roy, encouraging him to kill himself, were free speech protected by the First Amendment.
On July 13, 2014, Carter was 30 miles away from Roy and on the phone with him, listening as he inhaled carbon monoxide in his pickup truck in a Fairhaven parking lot. At one point, Roy told Carter he was getting out of the truck, but Carter ordered him back in, prosecutors said.
Carter’s lawyers said Friday that they would ask for the stay while they petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case.
An SJC docket entry dated Monday noted Carter’s emergency motion and said, “The motion is denied. By the Court.”
Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III tweeted: “We have just been notified that the SJC has denied Michelle Carter’s motion for a stay of sentence in her case.”