The new Hulu series "The Girl From Plainville," which premiered Tuesday, has generated renewed interest in the Michelle Carter texting-suicide case.
It's been eight years since 18-year-old Conrad Roy died by suicide, and in a landmark case that received national attention, Carter, his girlfriend, was convicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge related to his death.
The new limited series stars Elle Fanning and Colton Ryan, and explores Roy and Carter's relationship and how the trial impacted those who knew the teens.
Here's a detailed look back at the case:
How did Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy meet?
Carter and Roy both lived in Massachusetts but met in Florida in 2012 while both were on vacation with their families.
Their relationship consisted mainly of texting and other electronic communications.
Both teens had depression, and Roy had made suicide attempts.
How did Conrad Roy die?
Roy's body was found in his pickup in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, on July 13, 2014.
He died of carbon monoxide poisoning and police found a gasoline-operated water pump in the back seat.
Carter reportedly texted him to "get back in" the car when he told her that he didn't know if he wanted to take his life, according to prosecutors.
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Michelle Carter case
Carter’s case garnered national attention, as it raised thorny legal questions about free speech and provided a disturbing look at teenage relationships and depression. It also sparked legislative proposals in Massachusetts to criminalize suicide coercion.
A judge determined that Carter, who was 17 at the time, caused Roy's death when she ordered him in a phone call to get back in his carbon monoxide-filled truck. The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent a different friend in which she said she had told Roy to “get back in.”
In text messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death, Carter also encouraged Roy to follow through with his suicide plan and chastised him when he didn’t, Massachusetts courts found.
Carter opted for a bench trial, an unusual legal strategy that meant a judge decided her fate rather than a jury. She also did not testify in her defense at the trial.
Michelle Carter Texting Suicide Trial
The state’s highest court upheld Carter’s conviction in February of 2019 and she was ordered to begin serving her jail sentence.
“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,” Justice Scott Kafker wrote in the state Supreme Judicial Court’s decision.
Carter’s lawyers argued in their Supreme Court appeal that the conviction should be thrown out because it was an “unprecedented” violation of their client’s First Amendment rights that suggested “words alone” are enough to hold someone responsible for another person’s suicide.
The lawyers also argued that there was simply not enough evidence to prove Carter urged Roy to get back in his truck to die, or that he would have lived if she had called for help or taken other actions to try and save his life.
Michelle Carter's texts
The case against Carter centered around text messages sent in the days before Roy’s death where she encouraged him to follow through with his suicide plan and chastised him when he didn’t. She reportedly sent Roy more than 1,000 texts in the week leading up to his death alone.
In text messages revealed during her 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.
“The time is right and you are ready ... just do it babe,” Carter wrote in a text the day Roy killed himself.
Prosecutors say one string of text messages between the two show that Carter spent days convincing Roy to kill himself.
In one discussion, Roy appears worried about how his parents would respond to his suicide, and Carter purportedly tries to calm that fear.
"I think your parents know you're in a really bad place," she said, according to the documents. "I'm not saying they want you to do it but I honestly feel like they can accept it. They know there is nothing they can do. They've tried helping. Everyone's tried, but there is a point that comes where there isn't anything anyone can do to save you, not even yourself. And you've hit that point and I think your parents know you've hit that point. You said your mom saw a suicide thing on your computer and she didn't say anything. I think she knows it's on your mind and she's prepared for it. Everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on. They won't be in depression. I won't let that happen. They know how sad you are, and they know that you are doing this to be happy and I think they will understand and accept it. They will always carry you in their hearts ... You have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It's now or never."
Another exchange seems to show Roy opening a conversation without mentioning his plans and Carter pressuring him.
"How was your day?" asked Roy.
"When are you doing it?" responded Carter.
Roy responded that he had a good day.
"Ended up going to work for a little bit and then just looked stuff up," Roy said.
"When are you gonna do it? Stop ignoring the question????" replied Carter.
Roy committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in Fairhaven, in his truck behind a store. Documents showed that Roy had apparently gotten out of the truck and reached out to Carter, who told him to "get back in."
Texts show Carter questioning whether the portable generator Roy planned to use emitted enough carbon monoxide to kill him.
"It emits more than cars," Roy said.
"Are you positive?" she asked.
As the conversation continued, Carter suggested an apparent backup plan.
"You could take that in your truck and take some Benadryls just in case," she said.
"Yeah, I'm gonna fall asleep and peacefully die," said Roy.
"Yeah, that's the best way," said Carter.
Carter's attorney later released additional text messages that appeared to show that she initially tried to talk Roy out of killing himself.
"Let's get better and fight this together," read one text from Carter to Roy.
"Promise me right now that you won't (kill yourself)," read another. "I'll be here to help you get thru this."
Her lawyer said Carter only changed her thinking after many months of Roy talking about committing suicide.
Is Michelle Carter in prison?
Carter served 12 months of her 15-month sentence at Bristol County jail in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. She was released from prison on Jan. 23, 2020 after her sentence was cut short by three months due to good behavior.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who oversees the jail, said Carter had been a "model inmate" who stayed out of trouble and participated in jail programs, which under state law allowed her to accrue time off her sentence.
She regularly participated in Bible study, among other programs, and had a job in the kitchen where "she really seemed to meld well with the other inmates," Hodgson said.
She walked out of the Bristol County jail in Dartmouth wearing the same white blazer, dark slacks and a dark turtleneck she wore the previous February, when a judge ordered her to begin serving her sentence.
Carter didn't speak as two jail staffers escorted her to an SUV where her lawyer and parents were waiting for her. She also declined to speak to reporters later in the day as she reported to her probation officer.
Carter remains on probation through Aug. 1, 2022. She can't have any contact with Roy's family and can't profit from her story during that time.
Roy's family said they were disappointed that Carter wasn't forced to serve her full sentence but they were looking forward to moving on.
Where is Michelle Carter now?
Truthfully? No one really knows.
Carter, now 25, has stayed out of the public eye since her release in January of 2020, although it's possible she's still living with her family back in Plainville.
She has yet to publicly address the Hulu series or the two-part HBO documentary about her case released in 2019. Lifetime also released a movie based on her story in 2018.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.