Enlarge / Michelle Carter faces involuntary manslaughter charges for texts prosecutors say encouraged a 17-year-old boy to commit suicide. (credit: WCVB 5)
An involuntary manslaughter trial began Tuesday for a Massachusetts woman who as a teen texted her boyfriend and urged him to commit suicide.
The woman, Michelle Carter, faces a maximum 20-year prison term if convicted at a bench trial in Bristol County.
Attorneys for Carter, who was 18 at the time of the texts, had tried to fend off the charges, saying her texts to 17-year-old Conrad Roy were protected speech under the First Amendment.
The state’s top court, the Supreme Judicial Court, set no line in the sand on when speech loses its constitutional protection.
Instead, the court upheld the indictment for involuntary manslaughter on “the basis of words alone.”
Roy, who was found dead about 50 miles south of Boston in a Fairhaven parking lot, took his own life via carbon monoxide fumes inside his truck.
The authorities also claim Carter was on the phone with Roy for nearly an hour while he was killing himself.
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