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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Appeal Of Michelle Carter Texting Suicide Case

BOSTON (CBS) – The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Michelle Carter, a Plainville woman who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last year. Despite the decision, Carter is now expected to be released from jail in about two weeks.

Carter was found guilty in a bench trial after encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself through text messages.

Michelle Carter
Michelle Carter at the Bristol County House of Corrections (Image from Bristol County Sheriff)

She began serving her 15-month jail sentence in February 2019. On Monday, the Bristol County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Carter is scheduled to be released January 23.

Lawyers for Carter filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in July. The filing argued that her conviction, based on her "words alone," violated her First Amendment right to free speech.

Daniel Marx, one of Carter's attorneys, said it's deeply disappointing.

"There's a risk that [the decision] can embolden prosecutors to pursue these cases," Marx told WBZ-TV. "The denial isn't the Supreme Court saying [everyone else] got it right. They're just saying this isn't the kind of case they take."

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn issued a statement after the Supreme Court's decision.

I am very pleased that the US Supreme Court has denied Michelle Carter's petition for further review of her conviction. This, once again, justifies the decision to charge the defendant with manslaughter based on existing Massachusetts law, which is well-established.  The validity of charging her has been vindicated by numerous judges at every step of the criminal justice process---including twice by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which voted unanimously to uphold the conviction. The US Supreme Court's decision today brings closure to the family of Conrad Roy for his tragic death.  I hope that the finality of this decision brings some solace to them.   I thank the prosecution team of Maryclare Flynn and Katie Rayburn for their tireless efforts on behalf of our office and the Roy family. I would like to also thank all the investigators, including Fairhaven Police, for their significant efforts in bringing about justice for Conrad Roy and his family.  I am very pleased that the legal chapter of this tragic case is finally closed.

Carter's attorney Joseph Cataldo called the decision "unfortunate."

"Clearly many legal scholars and many in the legal community understand the dangers created by the unprecedented decision of the Massachusetts court," Cataldo said. "To that end we will be weighing our next steps in correcting this injustice."

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