DARTMOUTH — After serving just 11 months following her 2017 conviction in a widely publicized trial which sparked a national debate on suicide coercion, 23-year-old Michelle Carter was released from the Bristol County House of Corrections on Thursday.
Carter had initially been sentenced to 15 months for involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her former boyfriend Conrad Roy III, which judges ruled was enabled by encouraging texts from the then 18-year-old defendant. According to Jonathan Darling, a Bristol County Sheriff's spokesperson, Carter’s early release was the result of earning credit for exemplary behavior in prison.
“Ms. Carter has been a model inmate here at the Bristol County House of Corrections,” said Darling. “She has participated in a variety of programs, held a job inside the jail, has been polite to our staff and volunteers, has gotten along with the other inmates, and we've had no discipline issues with her whatsoever.”
During her trial, prosecutors argued that Carter had knowingly enabled Roy’s suicide by sending numerous encouraging texts, including detailed methods of carbon monoxide poisoning, which constituted “wanton and reckless conduct,” according to Judge Lawrence Moniz.
"I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you're ready, you just need to do it! You can't keep living this way," read one exchange.
"So what are you gonna do then? Keep being all talk and no action and everyday go thru saying how badly you wanna kill yourself?”
“The evidence actually established that Conrad Roy caused his own death by his physical actions and by his own thoughts,” defense attorney Joseph Cataldo said during the 2017 trial. “You’re dealing with an individual who wanted to take his own life. He dragged Michelle Carter into this. It’s sad, it’s tragic. It’s just not a homicide.”
Carter’s release comes a week after the US Supreme Court rejected her appeal to review the case. During the appeal, attorneys claimed that her conviction violated her First Amendment right to free speech. Carter had previously lost an appeal on similar grounds with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts last year.
Her attorneys have refused to comment further on Carter’s early release, which is contingent on the completion of five years of mandatory probation.
Image via Wikimedia Commons