back to article Teen texted boyfriend to kill himself. It worked. Will the law change to deal with digital reality?

Prosecutors in the US who want to send 18-year-old Michelle Carter to jail for her boyfriend's suicide have rested their case after three days in court. The Massachusetts teenager is charged with involuntary manslaughter after she sent hundreds of texts to her then-lover Conrad Roy III back in 2014 urging him to follow through …

I'd read most of the texts a few years ago in the Boston Herald. They are beyond belief.

That girl is the devil incarnate.

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"That girl is the devil incarnate."

no, THAT would be my X wife [and if I could text HER and get her to off herself...]

/me points out joke alert icon to avoid being investigated unnecessarily. "just kidding". heh. heh. heh.

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She deserves the the most severe sentence the judge can hand out.

As his girlfriend, at the time he needed support the most, she was encouraging him to kill himself even when he didn't want to.

She is pure evil.......

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federation / republic of USA

No such thing as evil, nasty piece of work, yes. But as with all of us apes there is a large spectrum of behaviour, and this was a long way from what is deemed acceptable.

Evil implies inherent behaviour and so a lack of responsibility.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: federation / republic of USA

Evil implies inherent behaviour and so a lack of responsibility.

Nope. Evil is a choice made by each person. And, while we are all inclined to do things that harm others, most of us temper that because we recognise that such things are not right.

She is a psycopath, pure and simple.

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Too bad for her the Nazis are defunct nowadays

Being born too late and in the wrong country, she missed out on a real opportunity: she'd have made an excellent SS concentration camp guard. Having missed that opportunity, perhaps she could seek a satisfying job in the prison system of some evil third world country.

This woman strikes me as a stone-cold psychopath.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Too bad for her the Nazis are defunct nowadays

> in the prison system of some evil third world country

So ... America?

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Devil

Re: Too bad for her the Nazis are defunct nowadays

Oh if you read some of the things US law enforcement is doing and getting away with, I'm guessing she actually had a promising career as a proud 'protect and serve' armed arresting officer in several US states, or as an ICE or TSA agent.

I want to see her psyche eval. I love finding out how amazingly broken things come about.

What I'd *really* like to see is how the personality-type distribution of America is changing. There may be a darwinian advantage to psychopathy in the modern emotional-pain saturation-bath that is modern media overload.

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Re: Too bad for her the Nazis are defunct nowadays

Her her psyche eval was never completed. The person doing now will need decades of therapy after spending that much time in a room with her.

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He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

When thought crime becomes reality, they'll be rounding up people in droves.

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Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

No. I'm not without sin. I dislike a lot of people I shouldn't, but I don't go around trying to harm them or get them to harm themselves or encouraging others to do so.

This is NOT "thought crime" a la 1984. She TEXTED him, encouraging a (likely) mentally ill person to harm himself. And he did. She's like some scumbag that yells at someone up on a window ledge "Jump! Jump!" Worse, actually. She went to GREAT LENGTHS to get him to kill himself, sending hundreds of texts to this poor fellow. She's not only a stone-cold bitch psychopath, she did everything to harm him short of murder him herself.

She deserves some porridge time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

It is a kind of thought crime but you got it the wrong way round. She properly fucked with his thoughts and when the one most important person was telling him to do it, he must have felt really depressed and unsupported.

I know it won't happen at this stage, but with the amount of influence she had on him the charge should have been straight up calculated murder. Life life.

When she goes to prison I hope the other people in there make her life so miserable that she wants to die, but they keep her on suicide watch for the rest of her life so she can't do it, and I hope she lives to 100 years old in there so she has time to learn that you can't go around doing that shit to other people.

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Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

She apparently egged him on with numerous texts. She partially culpable for his suicide. This is a much a legal issue (what is the state law on the point) as it is a ethical/moral one. He probably was either suffering from depression or mental illness which did not help.

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Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

"This is NOT "thought crime" a la 1984. She TEXTED him"

My gut reaction is to agree that this woman is either criminally culpable for encouraging the victims suicide, or is clinically insane and needs treatment in a secure facility, but...hang on a moment...

If we accept that it is possible to cause someone to kill themselves by use of the written word (in any media whatsoever, I don't think its 'worse because internet/technology' particularly), but then we get into how many words do you need to send before you can be charged as the prime cause of that death?

For instance, if I get into a political row with someone on social media and post something like "Just feck off and die, will you?", even just the once, and then they kill themselves, am I immediately liable, or do you have to show that there was an intentional campaign of harassment to bring about that suicide? Such a call would surely be more than a little subjective?

I'm not certain it would be a simple matter for the law to rule on. What laws already exist that cover this? Say someone killed themselves as a result of a defamatory article in a newspaper, or as the result of a letter they've received?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

There is a distinct difference between coercion of the victim and your statement. She texted him and encouraged it. That is just as guilty as handing him the proverbial loaded gun and letting him pull the trigger. at most she deserves manslaughter for what she has done. I see no remorse in her statements and appearance.

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"Involuntary Manslaughter" ?

I'm surprised "Involuntary Manslaughter" is the best the prosecutors could come up with.

Is that a step down from standard manslaughter?

This is basically murder.

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Re: "What laws already exist that cover this?"

@Bernard

re What laws already exist that cover this?

Well I dont know , but its common occurrence with very serious consequences so there must be some.

For instance if a Chief-Conniving-Jihadi who convinces weak willed learning difficultys kid to strap a bomb to himself and .. etc

I'm sure the state would find something to charge him with

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Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

I agree with a lot of what you are saying that it is not a simple matter of a few words could mean you end up liable, however in this case the fact she had told him to get back into his vehicle and continue the suicide or that she was telling her friends he was missing while telling him to buy the mobile generator... I think it will be quite clear that she had a direct hand in what happened and was blatantly trying to cover her own tracks. Theres a difference between "F*** off and die" and something so cold and calculated to also have had a dry run at things.

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Re: "What laws already exist that cover this?"

@Prst. V.Jeltz

"I'm sure the state would find something to charge him with"

In that case "they'd" just drop a bomb on him from a predator drone... sadly this isn't an option in this case...

However, nothing can detract from the fact she is an utterly appalling example of "humanity".

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Re: "Involuntary Manslaughter" ?

I'm surprised "Involuntary Manslaughter" is the best the prosecutors could come up with.

I always understood that "Involuntary Manslaughter" was something like a traffic accident or some other act that involved stupidity or some negligence (to provide a level of culpability). This wasn't in any way "involuntary" from the reports I've seen (which, tbh, is this article and I think a headline or two elsewhere).

This is basically murder.

I've always believed that the definition of murder was an act taken with the intention that the victim die as a result. On or two messages could put it into the field of exasperation (if you've ever dealt with a person who constantly threatens suicide, week after month after year, you understand the frustration that can be felt and the temptation to snap and say something like "just bloody do it then", especially when the threats are a cry for attention and not likely serious (no I have never said this, but with one case where I would get 2am phone calls 2 or 3 times a month, there was the temptation!)

I hate how the charge of "murder" is creeping into accidental deaths; someone dying from a single punch, someone dying from a kid throwing a rock off an overpass (even intending to cause a crash but not cause a death), all sorts of situations where clearly the guilty party did not intend or plan for the other person to die. But in a case like this I think it could be justified, and I would have no problem with her being tried for it. That said, I hope she gets what she needs to sort her brain out, sort her life out, and eventually be able to be someone who has a positive place in society and who can live a happy life in the long run. But I also hope she gets to act as a warning to others first. Mercy, but let her be useful.

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Devil

Re: He who has no sin can cast the first stone...

I'm reminded of the "be an hero" de-motivational.

unless there was some kind of coercion or manipulation involved, saying what you want shouldn't be a crime [even if it's to repeatedly tell someone to commit suicide].

otherwise it's "he hurt my feelings, and I wanted to kill myself" *SLAM* go the iron bars!

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My best non lawyer guess:

Gross negligence is the "lack of slight diligence or care" or "a conscious, voluntary act or omission in reckless disregard of a legal duty and of the consequences to another party, who may typically recover exemplary damages."[1] Negligence is the opposite of diligence, or being careful. The standard of ordinary negligence is what conduct deviates from the proverbial "reasonable person." By analogy, if somebody has been grossly negligent, that means they have fallen so far below the ordinary standard of care that one can expect, to warrant the label of being "gross." Prosser and Keeton describe gross negligence as being "the want of even slight or scant care", and note it as having been described as a lack of care that even a careless person would use. They further note that while some jurisdictions equate the culpability of gross negligence with that of recklessness, most simply differentiate it from simple negligence in its degree.[2]

---

So, with "gross negligence manslaughter" she's looking at 1-6 years in prison...

I'm not sure 6 years of counseling is long enough to fix her malfunction.

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>So, with "gross negligence manslaughter" she's looking at 1-6 years in prison...

>I'm not sure 6 years of counseling is long enough to fix her malfunction.

There ain't much counseling in prison. There's plenty of dope, and plenty of violence, but not much in the way of any non-essential service. These are felons we're talking about here, nobody who matters or decides such things is shedding any tears about not throwing tax dollars down the toilet trying to unfuck someone who's completely fucked and has only gotten worse after their multiple convictions. Maybe we could have prevented it by getting these people treatment when they were teenagers, but that would require being proactive instead of reactive, and I'm yet to see a human society where people take mitigating hazards seriously.

Ain't much medical care in prison in general, and they certainly are not gonna pay a shrink to deal with a bunch of felons who are there because they've generally got something wrong mentally (usually addiction). And that's at a Government managed prison which is like heaven compared to a private prison.

Private prisons don't usually have so much as a damn aspirin or a doctor. I hope she winds up at a prison owned by CCA or Geo and mouths off to some bad bitch who happens to be a sicario from a cartel or gang. Even if she lives through the assault, she probably won't live much longer than that because the Private Prison assholes won't call the EMTs unless they know they won't get in trouble for it or the victim's already dead.

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She was 17 when she sent the texts, does that count as being a minor in this jurisdiction?

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DJO

Gross negligence is the "lack of slight diligence or care"

Interesting, did you know it's a crime to let somebody die (such as by drowning) if you could have prevented their demise.

I'd think this is exactly the same, she knew he was suicidal and could have intervened to prevent that.

To use the drowning analogy this is as if she stood on the shore and stamped on his hand when he tried to get out. Not murder but death caused by malicious negligence.

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Stop

re: it's a crime to let somebody die if you could have prevented their demise.

Not in UK law (I am aware this is a US case). You could walk past a hundred drowning people, not throw a single lifebelt - no guilt there. (It's called a "brothers keeper" law).

Several European countries do have a Good Samaritan law, making it a criminal offence not to help someone in mortal danger.

The only way it could become a criminal case in the UK is if the victim was owed a statutory duty of care by the person charged.

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Re: it's a crime to let somebody die if you could have prevented their demise.

I used to think that however

Man jailed for not helping drowning teenager

Pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence, was going to be tried for murder.

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Depends when her birthday is. If it's close enough to 18 she may be tried as an adult

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Re: re: it's a crime to let somebody die if you could have prevented their demise.

actually "Good Samaritan" laws are intended to protect the 'hero' against later backlash from the 'victim' who might have been injured (permanently or otherwise) as a result of the 'heroism'.

Yeah, it happens. Reminds me of the beginning segment of "The Incredibles", yeah. Suing for having your life saved (when you didn't want that).

Maybe walking past is the better choice...

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Re: it's a crime to let somebody die if you could have prevented their demise.

@JimmyPage:

"The only way it could become a criminal case in the UK is if the victim was owed a statutory duty of care by the person charged."

Suicide Act 1961 S2(1):

A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or attempt by another to commit suicide shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

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with a judge approval in can be charged as an adult as low as 13 in some states. At 16 it's questionable but at 17 if you do any serious or violent crime expect to be charged as an adult in the US.

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Re: it's a crime to let somebody die if you could have prevented their demise.

@Deckard_C

I suspect, from the reportage, the fact they attended the event together, and by the defendants own admission "had been mucking about" was enough to create a duty of care.

Bear in mind it didn't end up before a jury - he *pleaded* to the charge himself. Presumably he was advised that his defence would have to hinge on convincing a jury he had no duty of care.

If you or I had been walking past, and also refused to help, we would not have been liable, as we were not connected with the case.

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Re: it's a crime to let somebody die if you could have prevented their demise.

Even without a specific suicide law prohibiting it, this would fall squarely under Reckless Endangerment/Culpable Negligence: "conduct that is wrong and reckless or wanton, likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm to another person"

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He escaped a dismal, no end relationship.

And she did not get half, or all, of his stuff as the usual reward.

Too bad the guy never learned about what a normal relationship should be. Letting anyone talk to him in that way and thinking that her opinions mattered. No self esteem. Victim who thinks abuse is normal and he deserves it.

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> Victim who thinks abuse is normal and he deserves it.

No, society teaches it.

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"He escaped a dismal, no end relationship"

He didn't escape. The relationship continued until the end of his life. To "escape" something you must get away from it whilst still alive.

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The degree of coercion isn't important

Anyone who says/ texts/ cross-stitches 'kill yourself' to a vulnerable person should be locked-up. We don't want those people floating about in a civilised society. [OK I Know it's the USA but give them the benefit of the doubt.]

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Re: The degree of coercion isn't important

Millions of people start humming the MASH theme outside the Whitehouse

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Pint

Re: The degree of coercion isn't important

Sadly, most won't spot the reference, not knowing the actual title or the lyrics. :-)

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Re: The degree of coercion isn't important

A gentlemen is judged by the obscurity of his reg comments

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Re: The degree of coercion isn't important

If you remember it being broadcast with the lyrics, you're showing your age. Sadly, you're also showing mine.

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Devil

Re: The degree of coercion isn't important

'Suicide is Painless' was performed by Painless the dentist in the original movie, when he wanted to commit suicide because he thought he'd lost his libido. The other doctors fixed him up with a simple sedative, and had him wake up with a couple of hookers (or maybe it was nurses), thus "fixing" the problem. There was a big wake beforehand, where Painless played the title song on the guitar and was the 'live' star of the wake. Having that song become the theme song of the TV show was in many ways 'priceless'.

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Joke

Clickbait

Should we add this to the list of things "millennials are killing"?

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Re: Clickbait

I should add this isn't a clickbait accusation aimed at The Reg.

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All this vitriol for a little girl ...

Consider that she was pre-teen when the "relationship" began, and was barely 15 when it ended. Perhaps y'all should instead save the rhetoric for her parent(s)/guardian(s)? I mean, seriously, she wasn't allowed to purchase tobacco or alcohol, couldn't drive, couldn't join the military ... in fact, she couldn't do anything at all from a legal standpoint. She was a child.

Note that I don't condone her behavio(u)r, far from it, but how about looking at the bigger picture. She wasn't exactly operating in a vacuum, surely the adults in her life deserve more than a little culpability!

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Re: All this vitriol for a little girl ...

And you knew nothing about right and wrong when you were 15? Nothing about the value of a human life?

Yes, before some point people don't fully understand the concequences of their actions. I don't believe that it is as late as the law states, the law isn't the definitive point - for a start, it varies between countries.

Things like murder are a whole other level though, and I personally think that extremes such as this are understood more clearly at younger ages than some of the 'grey areas'. I'm not a psycologist, but I'm in no doubt that she knew exactly what she was doing, for the simple fact that if she didn't, she wouldn't have been able to pull it off.

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Re: All this vitriol for a little girl ...

Obviously my point eluded you, Baldrickk. Please read mine again, this time for comprehension. Here's a helpful hint: Who signed the contract for, and was ultimately completely responsible for the use of, her connectivity device? It sure wasn't her ...

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Re: All this vitriol for a little girl ...

She's having a solemn trial and being judged according to established legal precedents. Let that process run, let's not turn this into a witch trial.

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Re: All this vitriol for a little girl ...

According to this previous article, she was 17 when he killed himself. I don't know if that counts as being a minor where she is.

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