The Massachusetts woman who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. 22-year-old Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15-months in prison for her role in the 2014 death of Conrad H. Roy III.
Roy died by inhaling carbon monoxide inside his pickup truck in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, while on the phone with Carter. A judge found Carter contributed to Roy’s death by instructing him to “get back in” his truck as it filled with poisonous fumes.
Carter was 17-years-old at the time and had only been out of a psychiatric hospital one month when Roy took his own life. The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld Carter’s conviction in February, arguing that ” the evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim’s death by suicide.”
However, Carter’s attorneys argue that the conviction violated her 1st Amendment right to free speech in a writ of certiorari petition to the Supreme Court of the United States filed on Monday. The petition states that prior to Carter’s case, “no state had interpreted its common law or enacted an assisted suicide statute to criminalize such ‘pure speech'” and that no one has been convicted of encouraging someone else’s suicide without providing the means or physically participating in the death.
“In the end, a criminal conviction for involuntary manslaughter should not turn on a labeling game by which a court deems pure speech to be unlawful action that deserves no First Amendment protection,” the petition said.
On that basis, lawyers also claimed the conviction was arbitrary enforcement of assisted suicide laws and violated the 5th Amendment, which protects the right to due process.
Despite the current rulings on the case, HBO has found use out of the story and has appointed Erin Lee Carr and Alison Byrne to shed new light on one of the darkest true crime cases to recently take place in Massachusetts. The director and co-producer are the filmmakers behind HBO’s new two-part docudrama, “I Love You, Now Die,” which will go inside the 2014 story of Carter and her then-boyfriend, Roy.
For the docudrama, Roy’s parents, Lynn Roy and Conrad Roy Jr., participated in the film. Carter and her parents declined to participate.
“It was horrible,” Carr told Fox News about Roy’s parents reliving their painful loss on camera. “I’m somebody [who] is no spring chicken when it comes to this. I cover disturbing crime stories, but there is something so singular about having to bury your child. And so there’s a tremendous amount of sensitivity that we had to interact with.”
Details on the docuseries are scarce as the case is still ongoing.