Does encouraging someone to commit suicide over text message constitute murder?

Michelle Carter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for “killing” her boyfriend Conrad over text.  In 2012, Conrad met Michelle Carter over the Internet. They began an online romantic relationship, which 2 years later would turn out to be deadly for Conrad.

At the peak of Carter’s sinister text messages (July 6-12, 2014), she repeatedly encouraged him to commit suicide and even told him about ways to do it. Particularly, she helped him overcome obstacles in his plan for carbon monoxide poisoning. Worst of all, on the night he committed suicide, she was on the phone with him while he did so, and she failed to alert the authorities or any of his relatives to his whereabouts. Below are some chilling excerpts:

When Conrad hesitated about whether or not he actually wanted to die, Carter responded:

“You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing”…

“But I bet you’re gonna be like ‘oh, it didn’t work because I didn’t tape the tube right or something like that. I bet you’re gonna say an excuse like that…you seem to always have an excuse.”

She would later text a friend about the suicide, writing:

“Like, honestly I could have stopped it. I was the one on the phone with him and he got out of the car because [the carbon monoxide] was working and he got scared. I fucken told him to get back in.”

In order to prove involuntary manslaughter under a theory of wanton or reckless conduct, the prosecution must show that (1) the defendant’s conduct was intentional; (2) the conduct was wanton or reckless; and (3) the conduct caused the victim’s death. Assisting or encouraging suicide could be sufficient to show that the conduct caused the victim’s death.

The prosecution argues that Carter’s conduct was intentionally reckless when she assisted him with poisoning himself with carbon monoxide and neglected to notify the authorities of Conrad’s car in the K-Mart parking lot.

Further, the prosecution argues that to find otherwise is to decriminalize her conduct because Conrad “acted upon the victim through the use of a cellphone”.

What do you think? Should she be found guilty for murder?

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