The fate of the young woman found guilty of sending hundreds of texts telling her boyfriend to kill himself will be sealed Thursday afternoon.
On June 16, a Massachusetts judge concluded that 20-year-old Michelle Carter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to kill himself when they were both were 17.
Carter will get the chance to speak one more time on Thursday before her sentencing, which could be as little as no jail time or as high as the maximum of 20 years.
After meeting in 2012 while both were on family vacations in Florida, Carter and Roy started exchanging a string of text messages that went on for almost two years. When Roy started telling Carter that he was thinking of committing suicide, Carter responded by telling him his family “would get over it” and giving him suggestions on how he could do it.
On the day that Roy committed suicide by hooking up carbon monoxide gas to the cab of his truck, Carter stayed on the phone with him and, at one point, told him to “get back in” to the truck.
“Knowing that Mr. Roy is in the truck, knowing the condition of the truck, knowing or at least having a state of mind that 15 minutes would pass, Ms. Carter takes no action,” Massachusetts Judge Lawrence Moniz told the court before finding Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
The unexpected manslaughter ruling caused waves in legal communities, with many legal experts arguing that it could set precedent for many future cases in which people tell others to kill themselves.
Daniel Medwed, a law and criminal justice professor at Northeastern University, told Business Insider on Thursday that it was unlikely that Carter would be sentenced to 20 years in prison due to her young age at the time of the crime and her history of mental illness.
He predicted a sentence of one to 5 years, saying that no matter what, it would be “a very difficult decision for the judge.”
“Some people think she should get 20 years because what she did was just so horrible,” Medwed said. “Other people think it’s unfair to make an example of her because she was a troubled teenager who doesn’t deserve to be sentenced to prison.”