There are no winners in the manslaughter trial of Michelle Carter.

After deliberating for several days Judge Lawrence Moniz has found 20 year old Michelle Carter guilty of manslaughter in the 2014 suicide of 18 year old Conrad Roy of Mattapoisett.  Carter, who was 17 at the time sent Roy numerous text messages encouraging him to take his own life.    He had tried suicide several times in the past.

Carter, who apparently suffers emotional issues of her own gets little sympathy from me or anyone else because her actions were abhorrent.  But, were they illegal?  I am not a lawyer nor am I skilled in the law.  But, I have questions about Judge Moniz's decision and whether it will be upheld by an appellate court.

I don't often agree with the American Civil Liberties Union but, this statement from the legal director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the ACLU makes sense to me:

"Mr. Roy's death is a terrible tragedy, but it is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution. "There is no law in Massachusetts making it a crime to encourage someone, or even to persuade someone, to commit suicide. Yet Ms. Carter has now been convicted of manslaughter, based on the prosecution's theory that, as a 17-year-old girl, she literally killed Mr. Roy with her words. This conviction exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions. "The implications of this conviction go far beyond the tragic circumstances of Mr. Roy's death. If allowed to stand, Ms. Carter's conviction could chill important and worthwhile end-of-life discussions between loved across the Commonwealth."

Just something to ponder over the weekend.  Sentencing is set for August 3rd.

Thoughts and prayers for all involved.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.



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