The United States Supreme Court said Monday that it will not take up an appeal brought by Michelle Carter, who was convicted of encouraging her boyfriend through texts and phone calls to take his own life.
The decision leaves Carter's conviction intact, though she is expected to be released from jail Jan. 23.
Carter was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her suicidal boyfriend Conrad Roy III, but the judge initially allowed her to remain free while she appealed. Massachusetts' highest court upheld her conviction, saying her actions caused Roy's death.
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A lawyer for Carter had urged the judge to allow the now 23-year-old to stay out of jail while they took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her attorneys argued that she had no prior criminal record, hadn't tried to flee, and had been receiving mental health treatment.
But after a judge ruled that she should start her sentence, Carter was taken into custody. She began serving her 15-month jail sentence in February of 2019.
The Massachusetts Parole Board denied her request for an early release in September, saying it did not meet the legal standard for release.
"Ms. Carter's self-serving statements and behavior, leading up to and after his suicide, appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity," the parole board said in a statement at the time.
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said Monday that the Supreme Court's decision is the latest judicial action to validate the decision to charge Carter and brings closure to Roy's family.
"I hope that the finality of this decision brings some solace to them," Quinn said in a statement, adding later, "I am very pleased that the legal chapter of this tragic case is finally closed."
Carter is expected to be released from Bristol County Jail this month, less than a year after she began her 15-month sentence. Her early release is due to good behavior.
Roy's aunt said the family received a letter in the mail alerting them to the early release. She also said that the Supreme Court decision brings finality to the case and peace to the family.
Carter was 17 when Roy, 18, took his own life in Fairhaven, a town on Massachusetts' south coast in July 2014. Her case garnered international attention and provided a disturbing look at teenage depression and suicide.
Carter and Roy both struggled with depression, and Roy had previously tried to kill himself. Their relationship consisted mostly of texting and other electronic communications.
In dozens of text messages revealed during her sensational trial, Carter pushed Roy to end his life and chastised him when he hesitated. As Roy made excuses to put off his plans, her texts became more insistent.
"You keep pushing it off and say you'll do it but u never do. It's always gonna be that way if u don't take action," Carter texted him he on the day he died.
The juvenile court judge focused his guilty verdict on the fact that Carter told Roy over the phone to get back in his truck when it was filling with carbon monoxide. The judge said Carter had a duty to call the police or Roy's family, but instead listened on the phone as he died.
"After she convinced him to get back into the carbon monoxide filled truck, she did absolutely nothing to help him: she did not call for help or tell him to get out of the truck as she listened to him choke and die," Supreme Judicial Court Justice Scott Kafker wrote in the court's opinion affirming her conviction.
At trial, Carter's lawyer argued Carter had initially tried to talk Roy out of suicide and encouraged him to get help. Her attorney said Roy was determined to kill himself and nothing Carter did could change that.
Her appellate attorneys said there was no evidence that Roy would have lived if Carter had called for help. They also argued there wasn't enough evidence to prove that Carter told Roy to get back in his truck.
Her phone call with Roy wasn't recorded, but prosecutors pointed to a rambling text that Carter sent to a friend two months later in which she said called Roy's death her fault and said she told Roy to "get back in" the truck.
If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting 'Home' to 741741.