Michelle Carter Gets Early Release After Conviction in Boyfriend’s Suicide Despite Parole Rejection

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
September 22, 2019 Updated: September 22, 2019

A Massachusetts woman convicted for encouraging her boyfriend’s death by suicide will leave jail weeks early despite her bid for parole being denied.

Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after pressuring and cajoling her ex-boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, into killing himself in 2014.

Carter, who is now 23 and is serving a 15-month sentence, faced a board this week that rejected her bid for parole.

“Given subject’s behavior in facilitating victim’s death, release not compatible with best interest of society,” wrote one of the two parole board members, according to USA Today. She “did not provide sufficient insight into reason for lack of empathy at time of crime and surrounding time period.”

However, the date of Carter’s release will be moved up to March 13 from May 5, Bristol County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jonathan Darling told CNN in a statement, adding that Carter had earned “good time.”

Darling explained to CNN that inmates can earn as many as 10 days per month for taking part in various programs or working at the jail.

A day after Carter’s hearing, the parole board said, “The [Board] is troubled that Ms. Carter not only encouraged Mr. Conrad to take his own life, she actively prevented others from intervening in his suicide,” MassLive reported.

Michelle Carter awaits her sentencing
Michelle Carter awaits her sentencing in a courtroom in Taunton, Mass., on Aug. 3, 2017. (Matt West/The Boston Herald via AP)

The report said Roy was found dead in a Fairhaven Kmart parking lot in July 2014 after allowing his pickup truck’s cab to fill with carbon monoxide.

Police did not suspect foul play in the death, but soon found thousands of texts between Roy and Carter, with Carter urging Roy to kill himself.

“Ms. Carter’s self-serving statements and behavior, leading up to and after his suicide, appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity,” the parole board said, MassLive reported. “Ms. Carter needs to further address her causative factors that led to the governing offense.”

Michelle Carter
Michelle Carter listens to defense attorney Joseph P. Cataldo argue for an involuntary manslaughter charge against her to be dismissed at Juvenile Court in New Bedford, Mass., on Aug. 24, 2015. (Peter Pereira/Standard Times via AP)

According to WVCB, Roy said that he had “second thoughts” as his truck filled with carbon monoxide. Carter then told him to “get back” in the vehicle, the report said.

Fairhaven police Det. Scott Gordon wrote in a police report cited by CBS that “Carter not only encouraged Conrad [Roy] to take his own life, she questioned him repeatedly as to when and why he hadn’t done it yet, right up to the point of when his final text was sent to her.”

In June 2017, a jury found her guilty, and she was sentenced in February.

According to Fox, the Massachusetts Supreme Court wrote in February that evidence showed Carter was guilty “by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim’s death by suicide.”

Her attorneys, meanwhile, had argued that her texts were constitutionally protected free speech, WPRI reported, but her conviction was upheld by a state judge.

Massachusetts has no law criminalizing assisted suicide and the case has led to proposals to make it a criminal offense to coerce someone into ending their life.

Lawmakers in the state have proposed “Conrad’s Law,” which would make it a crime punishable by up to five years in jail to manipulate someone into committing suicide.

Conrad’s mother, Lynn Roy, spoke at a news conference at the Massachusetts State House to unveil the legislation.

“‘Conrad’s Law’ has nothing to do with seeking justice for my son,” said the victim’s mother, Lynn Roy, according to USA Today. “This law has everything to do with preventing this from happening again to others who are struggling with mental illness and suicidal ideation. If this law is successful in saving one life, then all of this work will be clearly worth it.”

Suicide Hotlines

If you are in an emergency in the U.S. or Canada, please call 911. You can phone the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1 800 273 8255. Youth can call the Kids Help Phone on 1 800 668 6868.

In the United Kingdom, people can call Samaritans at 116 123, Papyrus at 0800 068 41 41, or Childline at 0800 1111.

In Australia, the suicide prevention telephone hotline at Lifeline is 13 11 14. You can also visit the Lifeline website at lifeline.org.au. Youth can contact the Kids Helpline by phoning 1 800 551 800 or visiting headspace.org.au/yarn-safe

If you are in an emergency in India, call Befrienders India – National Association at +91 33 2474 4704.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'