The family of Conrad Roy III is outraged after learning that his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, will remain free pending her appeal after being sentenced to 15-months in jail for encouraging Roy to commit suicide in 2014.
Makenna O’Donnell, Roy’s cousin, said she was distraught when a Massachusetts judge suspended half of Carter’s two-and-a-half-year sentence and agreed to allow Carter to remain free as she appeals her involuntary manslaughter conviction.
“I was just sick to my stomach the fact that she can just be free and my cousin, he’s not here. Two-and-a-half years isn’t enough,” O’Donnell said during a interview with Good Morning America. “It’s not enough. She should be behind bars.”
Carter was 17 when she urged Roy, 18, through texts and phone conversations to kill himself, even as the young man who battled depression told her just at the very end that he wanted to abandon his plan. On July 13, 2014, Roy’s body was found in his pickup truck after he attached a hose to a portable generator to fill the cab with the carbon monoxide that killed him.
Investigators later found that Carter told a friend she’d urged Roy to kill himself even after he had second thoughts and exited the fume-filled truck. She said she told him: “Get back in.”
“I just don’t understand how somebody can be free, knowing that she deliberately told to get back in the car,” O’Donnell continued. “She gets to sleep in her own bed tonight. She gets to wake up with her family, meanwhile, where’s Conrad? Where’s Conrad? He’s watching us from up above, he’s not gonna be here anymore.”
Carter was charged as a youthful offender, which under state law allows her to be sentenced the same as an adult although she was a minor at the time of the crime. She initially faced up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors asked for seven to 12 years. Meanwhile, the defense asked for five years of supervised probation.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 4, 2017
In the wake of Roy’s death, investigators discovered a slew of text messages — more than 1,000, prosecutors said — exchanged between Carter and Roy in the week before his death.
Among those were ones from her that stated: “You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing,” “You just have to do it” and “It’s painless and quick.”
The case has drawn national attention with many asking if one person could kill another through words. When she was convicted in June, Massachusetts Judge Lawrence Moniz said she had a “duty” to save Roy when she knew he was inhaling lethal fumes.
“Carter’s actions and also her failure to act where she had a self-created duty to Mr. Roy, since she had put him in that toxic environment, constituted each and all wanton and reckless conduct,” he said.
As for O’Donnell, she said Carter has yet to take responsibility for any of her actions, adding that the world has lost a wonderful person.
“ was so funny. He was goofy. He had so much life. He was selfless and he had strength and he was just a great person … he was just a wonderful person to be around,” she told GMA. “His energy was unbelievable, out of this world. And the world no longer has that.”
Suicide Prevention: What to Know
Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious or hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).
Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.
Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.
If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.