WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court of the United States has denied an appeal from Michelle Carter’s attorneys to review her 2017 involuntary manslaughter conviction on grounds that it violated her First Amendment right to free speech.
The petition, which was filed against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in July, is one among several hundred petitioners whose writ of certiorari was formally denied by SCOTUS on Monday, leaving her conviction intact. Carter had previously lost an appeal on similar grounds with the Supreme Judicial Court in Boston in February.
Carter was convicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2014 suicide of her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III of Mattapoisett. Evidence during the trial indicated that Carter had sent numerous text messages encouraging his suicide, including detailed methods of carbon monoxide poisoning, in the days up to his death.
During the trial, Judge Lawrence Moniz had concluded that Carter’s behavior and her failure to act by calling 911 constituted “wanton and reckless” conduct that resulted in Roy’s death. The case garnered national attention, resulting in an HBO documentary released last year and a bill introduced into the Massachusetts State House aiming to criminalize suicide coercion.
Carter’s petition with SCOTUS claims that the SJC’s previous decision failed to establish that her texts “were integral to a broader course of criminal actions” that led to Roy’s death. The petition further argues that the ruling effectively declared a new category of speech about suicide that would fall outside of the protection of the First Amendment and that the charges of involuntary manslaughter violated due process on account of the fact that no guidance preventing arbitrary enforcement had previously been established.
"We are disappointed in the Court’s decision," Carter’s attorney, David Marx, said during a statement last year following her conviction appeal from the SJC. "We continue to believe that Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy’s tragic death and is not criminally responsible for his suicide."
Carter is currently serving a 15-month sentence at the Bristol County House of Correction in North Dartmouth after losing an earlier parole appeal in September.
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