The other day, AP talked about the extremely disturbing case of Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts teen who badgered her boyfriend into killing himself. The word “creepy” doesn’t even come close to describing whatever it was that was going on between those two up until the night that Conrad Roy III died in his pickup truck. The big question on everyone’s mind at the time, though, was what the prosecutor was going to do about it. What do you charge the girl with in a case this strange? Well, the answer is in and they’re going with involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors have charged a Massachusetts teen with involuntary manslaughter after text messages to her boyfriend appeared to show her urging him to commit suicide…
“You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t,” Carter allegedly wrote to Roy on the day he died. Carter’s lawyer has denied that she pushed him to kill himself and has asked the judge to dismiss the case.
In their written response, prosecutors included text exchanges between Carter and Roy that they say support their claim that Carter caused her boyfriend’s death by “wantonly and recklessly” helping him poison himself.
I’ve read the accounts of what allegedly happened several times now and I honestly don’t know what to make of it. The instant, gut level response isn’t too difficult to work out: the smarmy, annoyed look on the girl’s face in the courtroom… the uncaring, dismissive tone of at least some of the texts she sent… who bred this creature and raised her to become such a heartless wretch? She makes the cast of Mean Girls look like a collection of saints.
But at the same time, most all criminal charges relate to the issue of intent. I really can’t tell if she honestly wanted the boy to die or was getting some sort of sick satisfaction or fascination with the idea of his life being snuffed out. I keep coming back to one of the last texts listed in the complaint, sent to a friend after Roy was dead.
“…his death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I (expletive) told him to get back in … because I knew he would do it all over again the next day and I couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore I couldn’t do it I wouldn’t let him,” Carter wrote.
Heartless and completely lacking in compassion to be sure, but that unsolicited sentiment still gives me pause. Had she just written this guy off as someone so damaged that he was eventually going to kill himself anyway? Did she, in some twisted way, think she would be doing him a favor by just getting it over with rather than going on week after week, dancing along the rim of the abyss? That sounds like the case her attorney is making and the fact that she was saying such things before she was in legal trouble might seem to support it. Perhaps, just possibly, she’s not so much of a remote control killer as simply an undeveloped ego with no inherent connection to the concept or value of human life. It’s hard to say.
So will they get a conviction on this charge? Allahpundit mentioned the possibility of disorderly conduct, which sounds rather trivial in light of the case, but it might have turned out to be the best the D.A. could get away with. The Massachusetts definition of involuntary manslaughter leaves me with some doubt.
1) An unlawful killing that was unintentionally caused as the result of wanton or reckless conduct that a defendant engaged in; or
2) An unlawful killing that resulted during the commission of a dangerous battery by a defendant.
Both of their definitions seem to center on the intentional commission of the “wanton or reckless conduct” but the original conduct was not intended to result in death. In other words, you were doing something you shouldn’t be doing and you should have known that somebody might be injured or killed, but you weren’t out to kill them. Does the teen’s constant badgering and urging meet that bar? If anything this seems to be a case of the exact opposite. Section (2) is right out the window because there was no battery on her part. That leaves the DA with proving that the sending of text messages and phone calls constitutes wanton or reckless conduct. To do that the jury will need to attempt to peer inside this teenager’s twisted little mind and divine what she was thinking while all of this was going on.
If her lawyer is even moderately competent he should be able to muddy the waters on that one a lot. And even if they find the right jury to bring back a conviction and a potential life sentence, this case is designed right out of the gate for a full set of appeals and many chances to have it set aside. In the end, I think I’m mostly on the same page as AP here: the D.A. might want to hand out a disorderly conduct charge as well just to make sure he gets something to stick.