Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts woman who urged her high school boyfriend to kill himself through a series of texts and phone calls, was responsible for his death, declared a judge who today found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the Boston Herald reports. Carter stood trial for the 2014 death of Conrad Roy III, then 18. The verdict from Judge Lawrence Moniz of Taunton, Ma., in the landmark case, which drew national attention, may help reshape criminal law relating to virtual communications. Carter, who was 17 at the time of Roy’s death, did not take the stand in her own defense. In the days leading up to his death, Carter repeatedly encouraged Roy to kill himself through texts and phone calls.
In one message that prosecutors framed as an admission, Carter texted a classmate that she could have stopped Roy’s suicide but instead told him to finish the job. “Sam, his death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him,” Carter texted on Sept. 15, 2014. “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 Sam 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.” Prosecutors argued that Carter’s texts and calls to Roy on the night of July 12, 2014, were enough to make her “virtually present” in a criminal context. Prosecutors successfully argued that in this new digital age crimes can be committed even when someone isn’t physically near a victim.