Michelle Carter's father urges leniency ahead of sentencing in texting suicide case

Last Updated Aug 3, 2017 2:15 PM EDT

TAUNTON, Mass. -- The father of a Massachusetts woman convicted of urging her boyfriend to commit suicide through a series of text messages is pleading with a judge for leniency ahead of her sentencing Thursday, reports the Boston Herald.

Michelle Carter was 17 in July 2014 when she urged 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to "get back in" a truck filled with toxic carbon monoxide gas in a Fairhaven parking lot. Now 20, she faces a range of up to 20 years in prison when a judge sentences her on a charge of involuntary manslaughter Thursday. Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz convicted Carter in June, saying her final instruction to Roy to get back in the truck caused his death.

Watch Live: Michelle Carter sentencing hearing

In dozens of text messages, Carter urged Roy to follow through on his talk of taking his own life.

"The time is right and you are ready ... just do it babe," Carter wrote in a text the day he killed himself.

Prosecutors allege Carter pushed Roy to commit suicide because she was desperate for attention and sympathy from classmates, and wanted to play the role of a grieving girlfriend. Carter's lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, said Roy was intent on killing himself and took Carter along on his "sad journey." A psychiatrist testified Carter too was "very troubled" and at first tried to talk Roy out of it, but became convinced she needed to help Roy "get to heaven" only after he convinced her there was nothing she could do to stop him.

Carter was tried as a youthful offender, so the judge has several options for sentencing. He can commit her to a Department of Youth Services facility until she turns 21 on Aug. 11. He could also combine a DYS commitment with an adult sentence, or can give her an adult sentence of anything from probation to the maximum 20-year term.  

In a letter written to Moniz last month and obtained by the Boston Herald, Carter's father David Carter wrote, "I pray to God you will take into consideration that Michelle was a troubled, vulnerable teenager in an extremely difficult situation and made a tragic mistake."

"I am 100 percent sure she was only trying to do what in her mind was right for Conrad," David Carter wrote. "She has accepted the court's decision and I hope you will consider a term of probation and continued counseling for her and us. She will forever live with what she has done and I know will be a better person because of it."

But in another letter obtained by the Herald, Roy's aunt Kim Bozzi asked Moniz to hand down the maximum sentence – 20 years.

"I'm unsure when [Michelle Carter] decided to set her sick plan into motion or why, but when she did she did it relentlessly, it was calculated and it was planned down to a T," Bozzi wrote, according to the Herald. "She preyed on his vulnerabilities, he trusted her, which in turn, cost him his life."

In a June interview with "48 Hours," Roy's mother Lynn Roy said she doesn't believe Carter "has a conscience." "48 Hours" investigated the case in the episode, Death by Text.

"I think she needs to be held responsible for her actions 'cause she knew exactly what she was doing and what she said," Roy told Erin Moriarty.

The sensational trial was closely watched on social media, in part because of the insistent tone of Carter's text messages.

"You can't think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don't get why you aren't," Carter wrote in one text.

Carter and Roy met in Florida in 2012 while both were on vacation with their families. After that, they only met in person a handful of times. Their relationship consisted mainly of texting.

Both teens struggled with depression. Carter had been treated for anorexia, and Roy had made earlier suicide attempts.

She is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. in Taunton.