Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts woman who was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend over text messages and phone calls to kill himself, is asking the Supreme Court to review her case and vacate her conviction.
In a petition filed Monday, Carter’s lawyers argued that her conviction for urging 18-year-old Conrad Roy to kill himself was “unprecedented” and violated her First Amendment right to free speech and her Fifth Amendment right to due process.
“Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy’s tragic death and should not be held criminally responsible for his suicide,” her attorney, Daniel Marx, said in a statement Monday.
Marx said charging Carter “based on her words alone” violated the First Amendment and that the “decision upholding her conviction created a conflict among state supreme courts.”
Her conviction also violated due process because “the vague common law of involuntary manslaughter fails to provide guidance to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement in morally fraught cases involving suicide,” he added.
According to the petition, Massachusetts is the only state to have upheld the conviction of a “physically absent defendant who encouraged another person to commit suicide with words alone.”
“Before this case, no state had interpreted its common law or enacted an assisted suicide statute to criminalize such ‘pure speech,’ and no other defendant had been convicted for encouraging another person to take his own life where the defendant neither provided the actual means of death nor physically participated in the suicide,” the petition said.
Carter, 22, began serving her 15-month jail sentence in February, nearly two years after her conviction. Judge Lawrence Moniz had allowed her to remain free until her state appeals were exhausted.
In February, Massachusetts’s highest court — the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) — refused to …