Carter attorney Daniel Marx said in a statement he was disappointed in the ruling, which he claims hinges on a narrative that is not supported by evidence. They said they continue to believe she is not responsible for the July 2014 death of Conrad Roy III. They used to discuss a lot of ways of how to kill oneself.
"The judge could have properly found, based on this evidence, that the vulnerable, confused, mentally ill 18-year-old victim had managed to save himself once again in the midst of his latest suicide attempt, removing himself from the truck as it filled with carbon monoxide". Roy had previously attempted suicide, and Carter had planned to seek treatment for an eating disorder.
Prosecutors at trial presented evidence showing that Roy briefly left the vehicle after he began to be overwhelmed by the fumes but returned after Carter urged him to "get back in".
The court differentiated Carter's case from one involving end-of-life discussions between a doctor, family member or friend, or a terminally ill adult confronting hard personal choices.
The case touched on issues of suicide among teenagers as well as the legal gray area of whether someone can be convicted for another person's decision to kill himself. He died of carbon monoxide inhalation that was produced "by a gasoline-powered water pump located in the truck", the ruling said.
The court heard how Carter told Roy to "get back in" his van with the engine running.
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He was 18 when he died. "The time is right and you're ready-just do it babe", Carter wrote in one message.
But despite the numerous procedural hurdles still ahead, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said his office was "very pleased" Wednesday with the high court's ruling.
Three years later, Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in his death, and her case hinged on the text messages she sent him as he contemplated suicide, and that she did not take action to prevent him from carrying out the suicide.
The Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union also raised free speech concerns.
The 22-year-old has been allowed to remain free while the court reviewed her case. The court noted the U.S. Supreme Court held that "speech or writing used as an integral part of conduct in violation of a valid criminal statute" is not protected by the First Amendment.
"This prosecutorial power will chill important and loving end-of-life discussions between family members, and could lead to erroneous convictions of children who engage in reckless, juvenile conversations with friends", he said.