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‘I heard him die’: The text messages at the heart of Michelle Carter’s homicide trial

Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter after encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. (Video: Patrick Martin, Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post, Photo: Patrick Whittemore/The Washington Post)

On July 12, 2014, Michelle Carter texted Conrad Roy III and said, “If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it,” according to court documents.

Several hours later, Roy went through with the suicide, using a gas-powered water pump. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside the cab of his pickup. His body was found in a Kmart parking lot several miles outside Boston.

Court documents include text messages exchanged between Carter and Roy hours, days and weeks before his death — messages that prosecutors argue pushed the 18-year-old to kill himself. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death.

Her texts pushed him to commit suicide, prosecutors say. But does that mean she killed him?

Now, nearly three years later, she is on trial in a case that experts say raises new and contentious questions: Can a person be charged and convicted in someone’s death even if she was not with the victim when he died? And can a person be found guilty of killing someone based solely on what she said in text messages?

The prosecution’s evidence against Carter, now 20: dozens of text messages they allege pushed Roy to commit suicide.

Carter’s friends testified Wednesday that she told them she was on the phone with Roy when he died.

“Liv, I heard him die. I just wish I got him more help,” Carter texted Olivia Mosolgo, who said she knew of Roy but never met him, reported.

During opening statements Tuesday, prosecutor Maryclare Flynn said Carter played a “sick game” with Roy’s life and accused her of seeking sympathy and attention by being the “grieving girlfriend,” ABC affiliate WCVB reported.

According to prosecutors, the two had met in 2011 and later struck up a romantic relationship — mostly online. Her attorney says they had met only a few times in person over the course of two years before Roy’s death.

Roy had a history of depression and had attempted suicide in the past, but his family was hopeful he would get through it.

However, police say that text messages they recovered suggest that by 2014, Carter had tired of Roy’s idle talk of suicide and wanted him to go through with it  — immediately.

Here are a sampling of text messages exchanged between the two in the days and weeks before Roy’s death, seen in court documents.

This conversation took place a few weeks before Roy’s death:

ROY: we should be like Romeo and Juliet at the end
CARTER: Haha. I’d love to be your Juliet :)
ROY: but do you know what happens in the end

Days later but still weeks before Roy’s suicide, Carter urged him to get help:

CARTER: But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life
CARTER: Part of me wants you to try something and fail just so you can go get help
ROY: It doesn’t help. trust me
CARTER: So what are you gonna do then? Keep being all talk and no action and everyday go thru saying how badly you want to kill yourself? Or are you gonna try to get better?
ROY: I can’t get better I already made my decision.

At one point, Carter brainstormed ways for Roy to kill himself, according to court documents.

“I bet you’re gonna be like ‘oh, it didn’t work because I didn’t tape the tube right or something like that,’ ” she texted him “You always seem to have an excuse.”

When Roy decided to use a generator instead, Carter was impatient.

CARTER: “Do you have the generator?”
ROY: “Not yet LOL”

Eventually, Roy did find a generator — his father’s — but it was broken. Carter told him to take it to Sears for repairs.

And if Roy couldn’t find a way to use carbon monoxide, Carter suggested alternatives: “I’d try the bag or hanging,” she told him. “Hanging is painless and take like a second if you do it right.”

On July 8, 2014, a few days before Roy killed himself: 

CARTER: “So are you sure you don’t wanna [kill yourself] tonight?”

ROY: “what do you mean am I sure?”

CARTER: “Like, are you definitely not doing it tonight?”

ROY: “Idk yet I’ll let you know”

CARTER: “Because I’ll stay up with you if you wanna do it tonight”

ROY: “another day wouldn’t hurt”

CARTER: “You can’t keep pushing it off, tho, that’s all you keep doing”

On July 11, 2014, the day before Roy died: 

CARTER: “ … Well in my opinion, I think u should do the generator because I don’t know much about the pump and with a generator u can’t fail”

On July 12, 2014, a day before Roy’s body was found:

CARTER: “So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing”

CARTER: “I’m just confused like you were so ready and determined”

ROY: “I am gonna eventually”

ROY: “I really don’t know what I’m waiting for. . but I have everything lined up”

CARTER: “No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don’t take action”

CARTER: “You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it”

CARTER: “Do u wanna do it now?”

ROY: “Is it too late?”

ROY: “Idkk it’s already light outside”

ROY: “I’m gonna go back to sleep, love you I’ll text you tomorrow”

CARTER: “No? Its probably the best time now because everyone’s sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck. And no one’s really out right now because it’s an awkward time”

CARTER: “If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it”

CARTER: “And u can say you’ll do it tomorrow but you probably won’t”

Roy’s body was found by police the morning of July 13.

‘I mean, you’re about to die’: Teen who urged boyfriend to kill himself will stand trial

Carter’s case went to the state’s Supreme Court in 2015. Last summer, the court ruled that she could stand trial for her alleged role in Roy’s death. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

In the ruling, the court found that Carter’s “virtual presence” at the time of the suicide and the “constant pressure” she had placed on Roy, who was in a delicate mental state, were enough proof for an involuntary manslaughter charge. She was indicted and has appealed the decision.

Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, said Roy’s suicidal tendencies predated his relationship with Carter.

“It was Conrad Roy’s idea to take his own life; it was not Michelle’s idea,” Cataldo said, according to WCVB. “This was a suicide — a sad and tragic suicide, but not a homicide.”

On Monday, Carter waived her right to a jury trial. A judge will hear her case and issue a verdict.

Abby Phillip and Sarah Larimer contributed to this report.

Read more: 

‘It’s now or never’: Texts reveal teen’s efforts to pressure boyfriend into suicide

‘Get back in’: Teen charged with pressuring boyfriend to commit suicide