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  1. #1
    even in another time magpie's Avatar
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    Default Guilty Verdict for Young Woman Who Urged Friend to Kill Himself

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/u...-roy.html?_r=0

    For a case that had played out in thousands of text messages, what made Michelle Carter’s behavior a crime, a judge concluded, came in a single phone call. Just as her friend Conrad Roy III stepped out of the truck he had filled with lethal fumes, Ms. Carter told him over the phone to get back in the cab and then listened to him die without trying to help him.

    That command, and Ms. Carter’s failure to help, said Judge Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court, made her guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a case that had consumed New England, left two families destroyed and raised questions about the scope of legal responsibility. Ms. Carter, now 20, is to be sentenced Aug. 3 and faces up to 20 years in prison.

    The judge’s decision, handed down on Friday, stunned many legal experts with its conclusion that words alone could cause a suicide.

    “This is saying that what she did is killing him, that her words literally killed him, that the murder weapon here was her words,” said Matthew Segal, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which raised concerns about the case to the state’s highest court. “That is a drastic expansion of criminal law in Massachusetts.”

    Ms. Carter’s defense team is expected to appeal the verdict. Legal experts said that it seemed to extend manslaughter law into new territory, and that if it stood, it could have far-reaching implications, at least in Massachusetts.

    “Will the next case be a Facebook posting in which someone is encouraged to commit a crime?” Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge and Harvard Law professor, asked. “This puts all the things that you say in the mix of criminal responsibility.”

    Judge Moniz unspooled his verdict in a packed courtroom, which was silent except for his voice and Ms. Carter’s gasping sobs. By the time he told Ms. Carter to stand up, and pronounced her guilty, the two families seated on either side of the courtroom’s aisle — Ms. Carter’s and Mr. Roy’s — wept, too.

    The verdict concluded an emotionally draining weeklong trial in southeastern Massachusetts involving two troubled teenagers who had built a virtual relationship largely on texting from 2012 to 2014. Ms. Carter, then 17, started out encouraging Mr. Roy, 18, to seek treatment for his depression but then abruptly changed, and in the two weeks before he killed himself on July 12, 2014, she encouraged him, repeatedly, to do it.

    For all the scrutiny during the trial of their texts, the judge based his guilty verdict on a phone conversation.

    Once Mr. Roy drove his truck to a remote spot at a Kmart parking lot, the two ceased texting and instead talked on their cellphones. When Mr. Roy, with fumes gathering in the cab of his truck, apparently had a change of heart and stepped out, the judge said, Ms. Carter told him to get back in, fully knowing “his ambiguities, his fears, his concerns.”

    “This court finds,” the judge added, “that instructing Mr. Roy to get back in the truck constituted wanton and reckless conduct.”

    But the phone conversation was not recorded, and the only evidence of its content came three months after the suicide in a text from Ms. Carter to a friend.

    “Sam his death is my fault, like honestly I could have stopped him,” Ms. Carter wrote. “I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared.”

    She said she then instructed him “to get back in.”

    The prosecution made this phone call, as described in Ms. Carter’s text, the heart of its case. And the judge accepted it as factual and incriminating.

    The defense strongly argued that there was nothing to substantiate what Ms. Carter had said on the phone and insisted that Mr. Conrad, who had tried to kill himself before, was determined to take his own life, regardless of anything Ms. Carter did or said.

    Judge Moniz acknowledged that Mr. Roy had taken steps to cause his own death, like researching suicide methods, obtaining a generator and then the water pump with which he ultimately poisoned himself. Indeed, Judge Moniz said that Ms. Carter’s text messages pressuring him to kill himself had not, on their own, caused his death.

    Instead, the judge zeroed in on the moment that Mr. Roy climbed out of his truck.

    “He breaks that chain of self-causation by exiting the vehicle,” Judge Moniz said. “He takes himself out of that toxic environment that it has become.” That, the judge said, was a clear indication that Mr. Roy — as on his previous suicide attempts — wanted to save himself.
    Is encouraging someone to commit suicide manslaughter? Should words legally be considered murder weapons? Is there ever a time where it would be moral to encourage someone to kill themselves? Are suicidal people responsible for their own actions under the law? Should they be? What sort of precedent does this set for the law, freedom of speech, and mentally ill people?

  2. #2

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    Well, we've long since established that words can be criminal. Freedom of speech isn't freedom from consequences. This ruling is merely an extension of that.

    Pretending that only weapons are weapons is one of many societal failings that allows for all sorts of emotional and psychological abuse to transpire without consequence.

    I'm fine with this judicial ruling.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke
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  3. #3
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    She seemed to go beyond just advising him to do it and would actually belittle him, to the degree that when he tried to stop, she egged him back on again. There was a degree of interaction where she was even vocally present at the suicide (not just a static post on a FaceBook page), where he had changed his mind and she was the little devil on his shoulder demanding he go through it.

    Will that set a precedent since it is such a unique and intense interaction that occurred? I dunno. It seems a bit different than the general bullying to me, where someone then offs themselves in private without coordinating with someone else. She might as well have been standing right there and participating in person, since virtually she was actively involved and in fact his death directly came from her influence since he was bailing.

    I'm not really sure about what a punishment should be in terms of specifics, but there should be a punishment.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft
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  4. #4

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    and so it begins again...
    With all Due Respect,
    -Jack

    I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me...


    Like it or not, believe it or not as you will. Your perceptions will not change reality, but simply colour it. Humanity has been on the edge of extinction for two millennia. Ignorant of so much, and dependent on so few. The guardians grow restless. Their time once again near. Whether by fate or misfortune, my family has crossed their path. And they didn’t take kindly too it...
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  5. #5
    Senior Member HisKittyKat's Avatar
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    I was very pleased with the verdict.....She is nut case on every level and the thought of someone like her roaming the streets was scary. I mean who in their right mind convinces someone to kill themselves, only a person who is insane.

    I don't have an opinion in terms of should words be considered criminal, however in this particular case the Judge made the right call. Lock this monster up and throw away the key.

  6. #6

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    I'll just go ahead and leave these here...try to give us a head start, we will not be hiding in the windmill, or the castle on the hill.
    With all Due Respect,
    -Jack

    I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me...


    Like it or not, believe it or not as you will. Your perceptions will not change reality, but simply colour it. Humanity has been on the edge of extinction for two millennia. Ignorant of so much, and dependent on so few. The guardians grow restless. Their time once again near. Whether by fate or misfortune, my family has crossed their path. And they didn’t take kindly too it...
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  7. #7
    even in another time magpie's Avatar
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    In my opinion, she is guilty of inciting violence, not committing manslaughter. Suicide isn't a crime. She was an accessory to suicide, not murder, and she isn't a murderer. What she did was wrong for sure. She doesn't deserve up to 20 years in jail though. It's also possible that she sincerely thought he would be better off dead and was attempting to act in his best interest. I'm not sure if that was part of her motive but there are definitely cases where encouragement to commit suicide is done in a person's best interest as opposed to being a form of bullying, and I feel this case sets a dangerous precedent in what we define as illegal and why we define it that way, as well as completely erasing the autonomy and decision making of the boy who killed himself. He chose to do that.

    All that being said, I still think the way she encouraged him and told her friends about it shows aspects of sociopathy and I think morally she was obviously in the wrong. I don't think she's irredeemable though.

    Another part of this case that was particularly interesting was the psychiatrist who testified on her behalf, claiming she was intoxicated by psych drugs.

    Woman Who Urged Her Boyfriend To Kill Himself Became “Delusional” Because Of Antidepressants: Psychiatrist

    Michelle Carter “desperately” wanted to help keep her 18-year-old depressed and suicidal boyfriend alive, but less than 10 days before he killed himself in 2014, she underwent a “transformation” because of antidepressants, a psychiatrist testified in her defense in a Massachusetts court on Monday.

    Carter, then 17, was “involuntarily intoxicated” by antidepressants at the time she sent numerous text messages to Conrad Roy encouraging him to kill himself, and chastising him when he delayed his suicide attempts, Dr. Peter Breggin testified on the sixth day of Carter’s trial at the Taunton District Court.

    As one of the defense’s prime witnesses, Breggin testified that the use of antidepressants led Carter to become “grandiose” and "delusional" where she decided the only way to help Roy was to help him kill himself and help him go to heaven, as the two had discussed over text messages.
    There is research that supports this claim:

    Antidepressants and Violence: The Clear Connection – Citizens Commission on Human Rights, CCHR

    Antidepressants and Violence: A Link in Search of a Cause | Psychology Today

    Violence and Suicide Caused by Antidepressants Report to the FDA | Psychiatric Drug Facts

    Suicidality and aggression during antidepressant treatment: systematic review and meta-analyses based on clinical study reports | The BMJ

  8. #8
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gentleman Jack View Post

    I'll just go ahead and leave these here...try to give us a head start, we will not be hiding in the windmill, or the castle on the hill.
    I'm not really sure what your ongoing contribution is here -- whether you are for punishing her in some way or whether you're just making sarcastic comments about a mob effect looking for someone to blame. (I'll guess the latter... but maybe it would be more constructive to actually state your thoughts versus taking swipes at folks who think she should be punished in some way?)

    Yeah, it is a gray area. Like I said earlier, her contribution seemed beyond the norm and she was effectively "there" during the suicide to manipulate him into continuing, for whatever reason.

    I was thinking about Kevorkian a bit, although his motivations seemed different and he just provided resources for someone to commit suicide which is what got him in trouble. But yeah, maybe what Magpie has said? Maybe Inciting Violence or a similar charge would have been more appropriate?

    I'd probably review the transcript of what exactly she said, just for further assessment -- there's a big difference between supporting someone in suicide because they are in pain and you care about them, versus insisting someone kill themselves because you want them to die.

    I don't think all the bullying cases of that last few years have helped. In that sense, society is looking to punish someone, true. There have been too many teen bullies who have greatly contributed to victim deaths without any punishment at all, so it makes sense society wants to see someone take a fall.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft
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  9. #9
    Troll with heart of gold Cat Brainz's Avatar
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    This is a very ambiguous case in which things are not as black and white as we like to think they are. On the one hand we can see everyone as responsible for their own life and it is your fault if someone tells you to kill yourself and you choose to do so. On the other hand in general telling someone to kill themselves (beyond them being some criminal or offender) is very wrong and immoral on the whole.

    In general if someone committed suicide and there is solid evidence another person deliberately told them to kill themselves they should at the least get charged with abuse and neglect of another persons basic needs (In this case their mental health and emotional well being). There are however cases of consensual suicide where the person who killed themselves enlisted another help and I think that shouldnt be punished if was clear the victim stated his/her intent to kill self clearly and was merely enlisting another to help.

  10. #10
    even in another time magpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat Brainz View Post
    In general if someone committed suicide and there is solid evidence another person deliberately told them to kill themselves they should at the least get charged with abuse and neglect of another persons basic needs (In this case their mental health and emotional well being).
    I was bullied on a forum (not this one) as a teen and told to kill myself by multiple people. Are you saying those people deserve criminal charges and that telling someone to kill themselves should be made illegal? Or are you saying it should only be illegal in retrospect if the person who was told to do so succeeds in their attempt? I'm confused about your stance.

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