NATICK, Massachusetts — Massachusetts officials are weighing whether to grant early jail release for Michelle Carter, the woman currently imprisoned for urging her suicidal boyfriend via text messages to take his own life.
Carter, 22, appeared Thursday before the state Parole Board to seek release after serving seven months of her 15-month jail sentence. No decision was announced following the closed-door hearing, and it’s unclear when a determination will be made.
There’s no deadline for a decision, which is typically made in writing and won’t require another appearance by Carter, according to Felix Browne, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, which oversees the parole board.
Carter, her lawyer and members of the family of Conrad Roy III didn’t comment after the hearing.
Carter was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in 18-year-old Roy’s death following a bench trial in which a judge — rather than a jury — decided her fate.
The judge found then-17-year-old Carter caused Roy’s 2014 death when she ordered him in a phone call to get back in his carbon monoxide-filled truck that he’d parked in a Kmart parking lot. The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent her friend in which she said she told Roy to get back in.
Carter didn’t take the stand at her trial.
Carter’s attorneys argued her texts were constitutionally protected free speech. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, however, disagreed, upholding her conviction in February.
Carter’s lawyers have since appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the nation’s highest court hasn’t decided whether it will take up the case yet.
Carter, meanwhile, began her sentence in February at the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth, the same jail where disgraced New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez served time for murder.
Carter’s case has garnered national attention and sparked legislative proposals to criminalize suicide coercion.
The case was the subject of a two-part HBO documentary that was released in July.
Lawmakers in Massachusetts have also proposed “Conrad’s Law,” which would make convincing or manipulating someone into committing suicide a crime punishable by up to five years in jail.
A wrongful death suit filed by the Roy family against Carter was also dismissed with prejudice in April after being resolved privately.
To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.