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Michelle Carter parole hearing held behind closed doors; results expected within 48 hours

Michelle Carter, convicted in 2017 for her role in pushing a friend to commit suicide, after a Parole Board hearing Thursday to consider her request to reduce her 15-month jail term.David Ryan/Globe staff/Globe Staff

NATICK — Michelle Carter, the Plainville woman convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for badgering her friend into committing suicide, apparently asked the Massachusetts Parole Board on Thursday to reduce the amount of time she spends behind bars.

However, the hearing before two board members was held behind closed doors, and no one who exited the building Thursday indicated to reporters they had participated. Carter was seen being escorted from the rear of the parole board building around 11:30 a.m. wearing handcuffs. She then entered a Bristol County sheriff prisoner transport van that drove away.

According to board spokesman Jake Wark, the hearing before two board members lasted about 90 minutes and a decision could come within the next 48 hours.


Carter is serving a 15-month sentence imposed in connection with the death of Conrad Roy III.

Carter was 17 years old and had been out of a psychiatric hospital for about a month when she urged the 18-year-old Roy to commit suicide on July 13, 2014, according to testimony in her Bristol Juvenile Court trial in 2017. The teens called themselves boyfriend and girlfriend though they had seen each other in person only a few times.

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, according to testimony. At one point, Roy told Carter he was getting out of the truck, but Carter ordered him back in, prosecutors said.

The Plainville woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a jury-waived trial in 2017 and sentenced by Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz to serve 15 months in prison. That sentence was put on hold until the Supreme Judicial Court upheld her conviction, and she began serving the sentence Feb. 11.


In its Feb. 6 ruling, the SJC unanimously rejected defense arguments that Carter’s conversations with Roy and the dozens of text messages and e-mails that they exchanged before his death were protected speech under the First Amendment.

Massachusetts’ involuntary manslaughter law covers “wanton and reckless conduct” that causes the death of another and that includes “overpowering [another] person’s will to live and resulting in a person’s death,’’ the court noted.

“We are therefore not punishing words alone . . . but reckless or wanton words causing death,’’ the SJC ruled. “Our common law provides sufficient notice that a person might be charged with involuntary manslaughter for reckless or wanton conduct, including verbal conduct, causing a victim to commit suicide.”

Carter’s attorneys have sought review by the US Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether it will hear the case. However, the nation’s highest court has asked Attorney General Maura Healey’s office for her views on the legal questions raised by the high-profile matter.

Healey’s office has been given until Nov. 22 to file a brief in the case, according to court records.

A spokesman for Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III, whose office prosecuted the case, declined to comment.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.