Update, 1/23: Michelle Carter is expected to leave prison today, Jan. 23, 2020. She's been incarcerated since February of last year, and was meant to be serving a 15-month status. Less than 12 months later, however, Carter is being released early due to good behavior, just a week after the Supreme Court declined to hear her appeal of her conviction. Said a spokesperson (opens in new tab) for the sheriff's office: "Ms. Carter has been a model inmate here at the Bristol County House of Corrections. She has participated in a variety of programs, held a job inside the jail, has been polite to our staff and volunteers, has gotten along with the other inmates, and we've had no discipline issues with her whatsoever."
Original post: The HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die details the complex series of events that lead to a teenage boy's tragic suicide. In what has been come to be known as the "texting suicide case," Michelle Carter was convicted in 2017 (opens in new tab)of involuntary manslaughter in regard to the death of Conrad Roy III, who died by suicide in 2014.
CONTENT WARNING: The below story contains detailed descriptions of a case involving death by suicide. This content may be triggering for some readers.
The case was unusual for its implications about social media: Carter wasn't physically present to influence Roy's decisions, but it was ruled that her actions over text and phone were sufficient to convict her (in other words, making it a crime that she encouraged him to kill himself from afar). It was also notable for its concliusion. Carter was initially convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017, and just began doing time in prison earlier this year as part of her sentence.
Roy died by suicide in July 2014 at the age of 18. Carter encouraged him to do so via text, even telling friends that she told him to get back in the car and continue the act of suicide after he told her he was scared. This was a complex case—as revealed in the documentary, Carter was a lonely teenager struggling with her mental health. According to the texts that were entered as evidence in court, many of which appeared in HBO's I Love You, Now Die, Carter and Roy often had a stressful, unhealthy relationship.
Carter didn't take the stand in her own defense, and thus the prevailing perspective from the prosecution and the public was that her actions were cold-hearted and calculated. She was initially sentenced to 2.5 years in jail in 2017, but she appealed the ruling and was allowed to remain out of jail while the appeals were processed by Massachusetts state courts. The state appellate court upheld the ruling at the beginning of February 2019. Thus, on February 11, 2019, Carter was taken into custody (opens in new tab) to begin serving 15 months of that sentence, so she should be released in May 2020.
Carter's lawyer Joseph Cataldo said (opens in new tab) that they would appeal the ruling all the way up to the Supreme Court, and that may not yet have happened by the time she is released from prison. So, she may be involved in that case, should it happen after her release—and she may or may not have to appear in court.
It's not clear at this point whether the Supreme Court will hear the case yet, although some say the chances are slim (opens in new tab). Neither Carter, nor her parents, have commented about the case.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-8255.
Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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