Teen texting manslaughter verdict could face a legal challenge

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A MA judge gave Michelle Carter 15 months of jail time Thursday for involuntary manslaughter after her boyfriend committed suicide at her urging.

At the trial, prosecutors showed the court numerous text messages between Carter and Roy to prove that she pressured Roy to kill himself, instructed him as to when and how to do it, assuaged his concerns over killing himself, and chastised him when he delayed doing so.

She had faced a sentence that could have ranged between probation with no prison time at the low end, up to 20 years in prison at the maximum end.

The judge's conclusion was particularly unexpected, several lawyers said, because MA is one of a few states that do not explicitly outlaw encouraging or persuading someone to commit suicide.

Investigators uncovered dozens of text messages and phone calls from Carter encouraging Roy to follow through on the action, including telling him to get back in the truck when he had second thoughts. The American Civil Liberties Union of MA immediately decried the guilty verdict, saying at the time in a statement that the conviction "exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the MA and U.S. Constitutions".

"The communications illustrated a deeply troubled defendant whose actions rose to the level of wanton and reckless disregard for the life of the victim", Healy said in a statement.

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"They say things like "she made a mistake".

Neither Carter nor anyone from her family spoke on Thursday but her father David defended her in a letter to the court.

Attorney Joseph P. Cataldo, who is representing Carter, declined to comment on the sentencing or possibility of an appeal. However, hours before the sentencing, Joey Jackson, a criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst, said Carter "will be given little, if any, jail time, in my view". He said Carter initially tried to talk Roy out of it and urged him to get professional help, but eventually went along with his plan. "She will forever live with what she has done and I know will be a better person because of it".

"You can encourage someone to die via text, and you can commit a crime via text", Rayburn said in her closing statement to Moniz. You just need to do it, Conrad. Last summer, the court ruled that she could stand trial for her alleged role in Roy's death. "It's always gonna be that way if you don't take action".

"Take away the spotlight that she so desperately craves". He granted a defense motion that would keep Carter out of jail until her appeals in MA courts are exhausted. "Twenty years may seem extreme but it is still twenty more than Conrad will ever have", she wrote.

"I'm sorry I couldn't save you, I'm sorry I let you do this", the then-17-year-old wrote.

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