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tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  December 25, 2020 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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thing for a soldier? >> i'll always have these. these will stay with me forever. i believe that he was an old soul. a beautiful soul. i know he's my son but he was the kindest person i've ever met in my life. he was definitely god's gift to me. >> a beloved teenage boy who disappeared. >> i have a report -- >> they saw his truck with caution tape around it. the police told my father that he was gone. >> i said, are you sure? what are you talking about. >> grieving alongside his
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family, his girlfriend. >> she sent messages of condolences, we need to be strong together. >> she gave me a lot of support. just there for me when i needed her. >> but was there something about these two that no one knew? >> what are you seeing. >> a series of messages. >> i had to read them a couple of times to take it all in. >> finally shocking. >> a tail of text messages leading to the darkest of discoveries. keeping all of the lies straight is difficult. she did it masterfully. >> that is not normal. i close my eyes and i said this is not real. >> a story every parent needs to see. >> we need to know what is going on in our kid's lives because it could be scary if we don't. >> it began as a chance encounter between to teens on vacation. >> she was a family friend that he met in florida. >> and ended two years later with one of them dead. >> he was smiling before he left the house and then he was dead a
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few hours after. >> an apparent suicide. >> he didn't seem like he was in any imminent danger. >> no, not at all. >> but there was danger from something teens do all of the time. texting. their cyber romance hit a nerve gripping the nation. and the people involved in the case gave us the inside story. the detectives who investigated the case. >> we're watching her. >> yes. and it just keeps getting worse. >> a grieving father. >> i feel like i could fix a lot of things but i couldn't fix my son. >> and distraught family members who feel betrayed. >> i just kind of said no. >> hi, this is conrad henry roy iii. >> his mother lynn roy said he was an easy child. >> what kind of kid was he. >> definitely sensitive. never gave me a hard time with anything. did well in school. had friends. loved baseball. >> the red sox. >> yes. but playing baseball. >> playing baseball. >> and he was just kind to
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everyone. everyone said nice things about him. >> were you two close? >> very. very close. >> conrad was her first born. two daughters would come later. looking back, she remembers his early years as good ones. >> every picture i have of him he looks like a little goofballch the happiest child. he was always happy. >> conrad grew up around the new fishing town of new bedford, massachusetts, where his father and grandfather run a tugboat and barge business. his dad said he was destined to take to the sea from day one. >> i think he was two days old and we took him on the tugboat. >> i was hoping he would take over the business some day. >> not only was conrad the first born, he was also the first grandchild. his aunt chrissy roy says his cousins adored him.
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>> my youngest henry would follow him around like a duck. he was the cousin that all of the kids look up to. >> but during his sophomore year in high school, her happy-go-lucky son started to change. >> his father and i got divorced and i don't know one child that doesn't get affected by divorce. >> he was 16 at time. >> yeah. and it is going through the hormones and he obviously had anxiety and depression. it just manifested at that time. >> he talked about it in this video diary. >> i feel like i'm definitely wired different from everyone else. like there is something wrong with me. >> it was at 16 while struggling with anxiety and depression that conrad encountered a 15-year-old girl named michelle carter. they met, conrad's grandmother said when they went to florida to visit family. >> and this is supposed to be some r&r. >> a week during school vacation. >> her grandparents were friends with our great aunt.
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>> and his sister said my brother met a girl and the three of them all hung out with her for a short while. >> when they return from florida, conrad and michelle continued to stay in touch through text messages. michelle lives in plainville, massachusetts, about an hour away. the two had a lot in common. she was a softball player and he played baseball. they were both quiet and funny and even though the two communicated regularly, conrad's aunt becky said he never mentioned michelle. >> he had other girlfriends. she was not someone that he talked about. >> apparently he kept a lot to himself. by the time he was 17, he had checked into psychiatric facilities a few times. suffering from deep depression. his mom said one time on the day he was discharged he attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of cough syrup. >> he felt bad. i said, conrad, you have no idea
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how much you are loved and appreciated. but he swore at that time after that that he would never attempt suicide again. >> and things did seem to be getting better. a year later, by june 2014, conrad had graduated from high school, gotten a scholarship to college and earned his captain's license. >> this must have been a big day. conrad getting his captain's license. >> i was very proud of him. >> are you feeling good about the place that he's in? >> i felt that he was still struggling. but i felt very, very positive that he wasn't going do anything to harm himself. >> it was right around this time when conrad recorded that private video shairiring his in most thoughts. >> i fell like i still have a long way to go to recover from this social anxiety, this feeling of insecurity. if i keep talking, keep talking,
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it is going to get better. >> on july 12th, he headed to the beach with his mom and two sisters. lynn remembered walking the shoreline with her son. he seemed in good spirits that day. >> we talked about school and he's like i'm not sure where i am right now in my head. and i said, well, you just got your captain's license, you deents have to worry about anything. if you don't want to go to school this fall, you don't have to make that decision now. just as long as you are working and doing something healthy. >> he's looking toward the future? >> yeah. >> when they return from the beach, conrad drove his sisters to get ice cream. >> he was laughing. i said something and he was like smiling. >> conrad told his mom he was going to his friend's house and wouldn't be back for dinner. but later that night lynn said out of the blue her daughter got a text message from someone quite unexpected. >> it was around 10:30 that
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night and michelle carter is asking where conrad is. and they are boyfriend and girlfriend now. >> this was news to lynn. she knew conrad and michelle had only seen each other in person a few times. the next morning lynn woke up at 5:00 a.m. and noticed conrad wasn't home. she called around and drove by his friend's house but couldn't find him. conrad was missing. >> coming up -- >> a family friend said they saw his truck with caution tape around it. >> the news is about to go from bad to worse. >> i said, are you sure? what are you talking about? >> it felt like all of the blood just drained right out of your body. >> when "reckless" continues. >> when "reckless" continues (gong rings) - this is joe.
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word spread quickly. conrad roy iii was missing. his family and friends growing
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more frantic by the hour. search the everywhere for him. by mid-morning, his mom decided to call 911. >> police recorded line. >> i have to report my son missing. >> that evening, about 24 hours after conrad left his house, his father got a call. >> the family friend said they saw his truck at kmart with caution tape around it. >> so you go down there to kmart. >> and i think the police told my father that he was gone. >> an officer found conrad dead behind the wheel of his pickup truck. his dad called lynn to tell her the awful news. >> i couldn't even see. i was like -- i felt like i was drugged. i couldn't eat, slept in the same clothes for days. >> the most horrible time in my life. >> the rest of conrad's family was in disbelief. >> i said, are you sure? what are you talking about?
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i just saw him. >> it just felt like all of the blood just drained right out of your body to hear that kind of news. >> detective scottsdale gordon of the fair haven police department was assigned to the case. his first impression was suicide by carbon monoxide. >> it was apparent that he placed a water pump in the rear of his truck and eventually he passed away as a result of the carbon monoxide from that. >> to those who knew conrad best, it didn't make sense. had they missed something. conrad had been getting help, taking medication and seemed hopeful about his future. his grandmother remembered him using that pump to help out his dad the day before. >> i could still see the smile on his face, the smirky smile. >> and his father recalled them working on a job together a week earlier setting up fireworks on a barge. >> we were laughing and he seemed fine. the last thing i said to him is
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i love you and he said i love you back. >> so his family wondered what pushed him over the edge. as they struggled with their grief, they got comfort from a surprising source. michelle carter. she reached out to lynn through text messages, consoling her saying conrad loved her very much. >> did you feel like you were getting support or just -- >> oh, absolutely. >> a connection to conrad somehow. >> and i told her i loved her. she told me so many great things about myself that he said. she was just there for me when i needed her. >> conrad's aunts remember getting messages from michelle. >> she sent messages of consolences that she never tried so hard in her life to save someone and she wished that she could have saved him and the at wake she introduced him. >> i was shocked when she said i'm conrad's girlfriend. i had no idea. never heard of her name. >> among conrads things were good-bye letters he had written to different people, like this one to michelle.
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>> it was very positive. keep doing what you're doing, michelle. he loved the movie "rocky" and gave him a lot of inspiration and i don't know if it is the music or just the mentality of the movie. his dad loved it. and he quoted that to keep moving on and doing great things and -- >> after reading this letter you must have thought conrad and michelle had a special friendship that he wrote her this letter. >> i was very happy that she was in his life. everybody wants to beloved. and especially -- he died so young. i thought she cared about him and loved him. i thanked her for being there for him. >> just weeks after conrad died, michelle contacted his family saying she wanted to raise awareness for suicide prevention. by organizing a baseball tournament. homers for conrad. >> i was thinking, wow, this is impressive.
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here is a teenager, a high school senior and she's only a month later starting to plan this large fundraiser. >> his whole family showed up. his aunt chrissy was impressed with michelle. then just 17. >> i went up to haer parents at that fundraiser and i said you must be so proud of your daughter. >> back in fair haven, detective gordon was kicking around for answers. hoping to discover why conrad might have taken his own life. >> i just found it odd that an 18-year-old would do it in that manner. >> the detective figured there were clues on conrad's cell phone which was found in his truck and sure enough when he powered it up, he discovered a string of text messages left on the phone from just one person. >> and that michelle carter. >> had deleted all other text conversations with other people. >> correct. >> and when the detectives started reading the texts, he couldn't believe what he was seeing. >> it is one of the things where you just keep reading and it just keeps getting worse and
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that is what kind of put everything in motion. >> coming up, the text messages no one could fathom. >> i had to read them a couple of times to take it all in. >> words that raised a disturbing question. and was this a suicide or something else? >> i closed my eyes and i said, this is not real. >> when "reckless" continues. >>s and buying a car 100% online. now we've created a brand-new way for you to sell your car. whether it's a year old or a few years old. we wanna buy your car. so go to carvana and enter your license plate answer a few questions. and our techno wizardry calculates your car's value and gives you a real offer in seconds. when you're ready, we'll come to you, pay you on the spot and pick up your car, that's it. so ditch the old way of selling your car, and say hello to the new way at carvana.
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two days after conrad roy's death, detective scott gordon of the fair haven police department had found a clue and it was a bombshell. a string of text messages from michelle carter on conrad's phone. >> what are you seeing? >> a series of messages that seem to be encouraging him to take his own life. >> encouraging him to take his own life. to the detective, it was unmanageable. he learned michelle and conrad had been texting like teenagers do for almost two years. but a few weeks before his death, something changed.
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it seemed michelle started a campaign to get conrad to commit suicide. she even gave him suggestions on how to do it. hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself, i don't know there is a lot of ways. gordon's partner, detective glenn cudmore also worked the case. >> he was looking at it and it was something to the effect, i can't believe what i'm reading. >> what was she saying. >> you promised me. why haven't you done it yet. >> you disappointed me. >> i'll take care of your family. >> the detectives poured over thousands of text messages and more they read the more disturbed they became. like this em change before conrad died. you can't think about it. you just have to do it. you said you were going to do it. i don't get why you aren't. i don't get it either. so i guess you aren't going to do it then.
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i'm just confused because you were so ready and determined. conrad wrote back, i'm going to eventually. i don't know what i'm waiting for but i have everything lined up. and this one on the morning of his death. okay, i'm gonna do it today. do you promise? i promise, babe. i have to now. like right now? where do i go? you can't break a promise and just no go in a quiet parking lot or something. >> have you ever seen anything like that in your career as a detective? >> no. >> it was clear to the detectives that conrad had died business his own hand but was what michelle did as crime. they contacted the assistance d.a. >> i want to send you these them. messages if you could look at them and it was shocking. >> the first time you looked at these messages, what is jumping out to you. >> pretty much everything,
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because everything was focused around you need to do it. why haven't you done it. just get in the car. leave your family. everything will be fine. do, it, do it and badgering. how could anybody be so cruel. >> she checked with her colleague at time and they agreed the text messages warranted further investigation. >> had to read them a couple of times to take it all in. >> does it feel like it wasn't real. >> because you can't imagine that someone would actually send these to someone. >> and of course at that time we didn't know who michelle carter was and the family had never mentioned that name. >> clearly it is black and white that you know this is wrong. but is it black and white, we're going forward with this, this is a crime, i mean i would imagine for you it is complicated. >> yes. it is our duty and responsibility to follow the evidence where it takes us and the evidence was taking us to michelle carter. >> so the commonwealth office told detectives to keep digging and find out more about michelle
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carter. >> first reaction when you see her picture? >> she's young. she's just a kid. and the words that she was saying in their text messages, it just didn't seem feasible. >> during the investigation, detective cudmore went undercover at that fundraiser homers for conrad he took photos of michelle's every move. to confirm she was the one who sent those texts. he went one step further. he videotaped michelle as he dialed the number he got from conrad's phone. >> you're watching her? >> yes. >> answering the phone? >> yes. >> that is a good sign. >> yes. we had the right person. >> did you just hang up. >> let it stay on on for a few seconds mute the and she hung up the phone. and i said are you sure we have the right girl. she seems to normal. we tend to deal with people it is obvious they may commit crimes and this wasn't the case. she looked totally not the type of person i was expecting to
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see. >> on the one hand, you have her texting him telling him to take his own life, on the other hand your finding all of this information of her expressing her grief over the death of her friend. >> right. >> it is like two different people. >> exactly. >> yes. >> a few months later, as the investigation continued, detective gordon decided to pay michelle carter a visit. he found her after school and approached her. >> michelle, the reason why we came out here is we're looking into conrad's unfortunate passing. >> and she has no idea she's been watched? >> she has no idea. >> does she look surprised? >> a little bit. but at that point, i don't think she understood really what we had. and where we were going with it. >> at first, michelle told the detective she tried to talk conrad out of suicide. >> how did you help him try and seek that suicide wasn't the right thing. >> well, i told him that i loved
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him and i told him that a lot of people loved him and how without him nothing would be the same. and what i have personal issues that i got help for and i told him that he should with me and get the help that he needed but he refused. he said that no one would be able to help him and it would make him worse if he got help. >> then, the detective asked her about having contact with conrad on the day he died? >> did you think you had contact with him that day? >> i think so. >> yeah. >> the detective knew that was a lie. >> we have a search warrant for your phone. okay. so we'll be taking it. >> wait, so you're taking my phone? >> yes. >> when we took her phone, i think she started to understand a little bit. that we were looking a little more further into it than she expected. >> he followed her home and said michelle's parents were very cooperative. >> they provided us with
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everything we needed. and that day we left with her cell phone and her laptop. >> michelle has to know what is going on. but her parents, are they totally in the dark? >> i believe so. absolutely. >> we still believe to this day this they weren't aware of what was going on. >> that would have to be unsettled for the police to come to your house with a search warrant over a suicide that happened months ago. >> absolutely. >> yes. >> did they have more questions? >> i believe they did and i think they were both a little shocked at us being there. >> after going through all of the evidence, including michelle's phone and computer, prosecutors were convinced michelle was criminally responsible for conrad's death. >> words can harm and you don't have the ability to just say your words aren't criminal because they're protected by free speech and there is precedent that have encouraged others to commit suicide have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. >> the charge of involuntary
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manslaughter, that she could have caused someone's death and she did cause someone's death. >> the prosecution believed that michelle should have known that encouraging him to kill himself could result in him dying. now they have the difficult task of telling conrad's family what they uncovered. >> it was just unbelievable. i think she's holding his head under water. you could tell that he did not want to die. her messages overpowered him. >> i close my eyes and i said, this is not real. how could someone like have an involvement in someone's death and only encouraged it. >> did you just feel like you'd been duped? she's been consoling you this whole time. >> i'm a very forgiving person. and the only thing i could say about the way that she was with me is that she's just really, really not well. >> still, that has to hurt?
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>> it hurts, yeah. it hurts very much. but i don't dwell on her. i don't think about her. i think about my son. i think about what he would want me to do after his death. how to portray myself. >> the grand jury indicted michelle for involuntary manslaughter and she pleaded not guilty. that is when the world hear the story for the first time and the debate began. was conrad's death a suicide? or a homicide? coming up -- >> why would she do this. >> she wanted the attention. >> a jaw-dropping theory about motive. >> she made sure to instruct him in his last tweet should be to her because she wanted to get a shoutout from him. >> and at trial, michelle makes a stunning decision. >> how are you doing at home -- >> yes. >> is it a choice she'll regret?
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i'm richard lieu. breaking news. the fbi taking the lead and they want the public's help in the investigation into none explosion that rocked downtown nashville this morning. investigators say an rv, you see it here. >> was broadcasting that a bomb would go off in 15 minutes. it then went off. and three people were injured and more than a dozen buildings were damaged. the mayor will provide an update in an hour. but for now back to "dateline extra." mitchell carter was facing involuntary manslaughter charges for doing something teenagers do all of the time. texting and calling each other. and the world was watching.
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prosecutors mary claire fin and katie rayburn understand why. >> this affects everybody. adults and teenagers and parents with kids who don't have phones yet. >> absolutely. i think it is good to be thinking about what your putting out there in the world because once you send it, you can't take it back. >> turn the gears. >> prosecutors believe michelle's words and actions caused a vulnerable conrad to kill himself. he described his fragile state in that video diary. >> racing thoughts. suicidal thoughts. and hard times. >> and prosecutors learned michelle did more than send text messages to conrad. as deadly carbon monoxide filled the cab of his truck. michelle was talking to him on the phone. >> there were two phone calls after the last text message. one from him to her, 41 minutes, and then one from her to him for over 42 minutes.
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>> but how would they ever know what was said on the calls? detectives poured over thousands of text messages. and they got their answer. >> low and behold on her phone there was text messages to her friends describing what that phone conversation was like. >> the detective said a message michelle sent her friend explained it all. sam, his death is my fault. like honestly, i could have stopped him. i was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared. and i told him to get back in. >> and as much as we're in shock about her language prior to that, once we read that, that was really disturbing. >> prosecutor flynn said another text message to that friend made it clear michelle knew what she had done was wrong. >> she said, sam, i just found out from his mother that detectives have some of his things and are going through them to see if anybody texted him or encouraged him. they read my text messages with him and i'm done. his family will hate me and i
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could go to jail. >> and that is what was at stake on june 5th, 2017. almost three years after conrad roy's death. at the bristol county courthouse, michelle carter went on trial. >> the drama began almost immediately. instead of having the case go before a jury, michelle at the last minute chose to let a judge decide her fate. >> are you doing that of your own free will knowingly and voluntarily? >> yes. >> all right. >> in her hoping statement, flynn drew a straight line from michelle carter as badgering and bullying to conrad in the truck that nice. >> she assist and advised and planned his suicide and reasoned him out of her reservations and told him once he was dead he would be free and happy. >> he kept saying i don't want to do this, this will hurt my family. and she said don't worry about them.
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all of the fears he brought up, she had a reason to convince him those things weren't real. >> there are people that are going to say everyone is responsible for them themself. he made the decision to that. >> that being said, it is clooer from the text messages, to sam where she told him get back in the car. he didn't want to do it. >> the commonwealth put salmon to read the incriminating message and another one in which michelle described listening to conrad die. >> he just called me and there was a loud noise like a motor and i heard moaning like someone was in pain and he wouldn't answer when i said his name. i stayed on the phone for like 20 minutes and that is all i heard. i think he just killed himself. >> but there was a nagging question. >> why would she do this. >>? because she wanted attention. when her friends were not spending time with her, she
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would say and do things to try to get their attention. she wanted them to be friends with her. >> it was a shocking theory. prosecutors were basically saying michelle convinced conrad to kill himself so she could be popular. they believed her plan was to get attention by being the grieving girlfriend. they pointed out a text exchange she had with conrad shortly before he died. >> she said am i your girlfriend and he talked about something else. and she goes no, am i your girlfriend, to tell people. and i think she wanted confirmation of the label before he died. >> a day before his death, prosecutors say michelle tested out her plan of being the grieving girlfriend. she texted sam boardman, i'm losing home. >> think he really did it. even show she knew conrad was alive. three minutes later she tested conrad. the generator will work quick and i don't get why you don't use that. >> she's telling her friends that he's missing and she
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talking to him. >> and then she made sure to instruct him before he did die that he should write her a suicide letter and that his last tweet should be to her because she wanted to give a shutout from him. >> yes. >> the commonwealth alsoed michelle tried to cover her tracks by sending conrad text messages after she knew he was dead. like this one. the day after his suicide. >> did you do something? conrad, i love you so much. please tell me this is a joke. and she continued sending texts to his phone for months. nearly 80 of them. the prosecution argued she deliberately sent the texts as a way to change her story. >> at the time i went along with it because i knew you weren't going to do anything but you did it and i'm so sorry i didn't save it you. >> it was agonizing to sit in the courtroom and hear the new details. >> it was pretty shocking. a lot of times it doesn't seem real. >> do you believe in your heart
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that it was criminal, what she did? >> i do. for someone that is in that fragile state and then you persuade them in the worse way possible, yeah, it definitely criminal. >> lynn said her son's own words a month before he died show he wanted to live. >> i want to recover from this and i feel like i haven't recovered from it yet. i do have a lot going for me. i just got a job to captain the boat, that's a huge accomplishment. >> but there was another side to the story. michelle's and her lawyer was certain the law was on her side. >> it is a tragedy. it is horrible. but it is just not criminal. >> coming up -- >> go to mcclain hospital. they will help you. michelle carter was trying to talk him out of it. >> a very different take on michelle. >> michelle, for a year and a half, tried to persuade him not
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to commit suicide. he always rejected her thoughts about staying alive. >> when "reckless" continues. >> when "reckless" continues every minute. understanding how to talk to your doctor about treatment options is key. today, we are redefining how we do things. we find new ways of speaking, so you're never out of touch. it's seeing someone's face that comforts us, no matter where. when those around us know us, they can show us just how much they care. the first steps of checking in, the smallest moments can end up being everything. there's resources that can inform us, and that spark can make a difference. when we use it to improve things, then that change can last within us. when we understand what's possible, we won't settle for less. the best thing we can be is striving to be at our best. managing heart failure starts now with understanding.
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it wasn't easy for ed mcfarland to sit in the courtroom and hear michelle carter described as a monster. to him, michelle was anything but. >> what is the michelle you knew. >> she was a quiet kid, helpful and friendly and got along with everybody and everybody seemed to get along with her. senior class was the kid most likely to brighten your day. >> ed was her softball coach and known the carter family for years. >> were these the kind of parents that came to every game. >> yeah, there was always somebody at the game. if you need somebody to do something, you didn't have to ask them twice if you needed help with anything. >> did michelle have a lot of
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friends. >> a fair amount. struck me as being lonely or alone or anything like that. >> just a normal kid? >> everything was pretty much trait up normal. >> he's been supportive of michelle and her family and was outraged she was charged. >> she wasn't there. if somebody being on the phone talking about committing suicide could be held to involuntary manslaughter. >> joe, michelle's attorney, agrees it is a slippery slope. he thinks the commonwealth made a mistake. >> this is an overreach of the prosecution. and from day one until this day i sit here i don't think a crime was committed. >> massachusetts has no law against encouraging suicide. >> right. and so it is troubling that they would bring a manslaughter. >> that is the basis of his whole argument. prosecutors misinterpreting massachusetts law. to him that was clearly a suicide and that is why he wanted a judge not a jury to hear the case. >> i thought the judge would
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apply the correct law on the facts that conrad roy was so suicidal that michelle carter did not cause his death. >> and that is how he began his opening statement. >> michelle carter was not present. michelle carter had been texting with him. she did not physically see this individual for over one year. >> and to bolster his case, michelle's lawyer introduced a set of text messages that the prosecution had not mentioned. ones where she tried repeatedly to help conrad. you have thought about getting professional help? like i think i'm going away to a place for my eating disorder so help me over come it and stuff. where are you going? it is called mcclain hospital in belmont, mass. i think it would be so good for you and we could get through our issues together. >> michelle carter was trying to talk him out of it. go to mcclain hospital. they will help you. she nothing but resistance from
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conrad roy. >> one of the main points of your argument was that conrad roy had tried this before and researched various ways to take his own life and this was not something created by michelle carter. >> right. the nature of their relationship was always in the background suicidal thinking on conrad roy's part. so that is clear as day in the texting relationship that anybody could see when you go back and examine the record. michelle for a year and a half always tried to% wa -- to persu him not to commit suicide and he rejected her thoughts of staying alive. it wasn't until the last two weeks of his life while michelle finally endorsed his plan. >> i think that is where people have the biggest problem with this case is why. why would she encourage him and she's supposed to be his friend. >> she came to the realization that he didn't want to live any more and he would only hate her.
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his words, i will only hate you if you tell somebody about my plan. she was somebody who was under the influence of his suicidal thinking. >> why not reach out to his parents and say, there is a problem here. >> this was a plan between this 18-year-old and this 17-year-old who was convinced by him not to tell anyone. now i think she only met his mother one time. i don't think she ever met the father. you're asking a 17-year-old girl to reach out to parents she doesn't know. that is just not realistic the way teenagers think. >> while the prosecution presented michelle carter as an attention seeker, the defense portrayed her as a victim taking antidepressants and was non no shape to help a suicidal friend. >> the facts will show that michelle carter is going through her own struggles. >> he was bombarded by his suicide thinking so you take that and then you mix in her own issues that she was struggling
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with, eating disorder and then eventually being diagnosed with a major depressive disorder herself. >> the defense called an expert witness. psychiatrist dr. peter breggan to the stand. he testified the anti-depressants impaired her judgment. >> she was immeshed in a delusion system. >> in a what. >> in a delusion where she's thinking that it is a good thing to help him die. >> baggan testified that he believed that conrad was in control of the relationship. and that he used the vul ferable and depressed michelle to help him commit suicide. >> he was constantly telling michelle and not his other friends, will you help me. >> the biggest hurdle for the defense it seemed was michelle's admission of guilt to her friend sam. >> if you actually read the entire statement that she texted, she said it is my fault, i told him to get back in. but then it continues to say,
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but i didn't think he was going to ultimately do it. i want him to get help. i feel so badly about this. >> but an one hand you're saying she didn't think he was going to get back him and get him help but then on the other hand you're though, you're saying she was kind of had sort of succumb to okay, i'm going to help him. he should do it if he wants to do it that badly which. >> she was all over the place. she was both. so you're dealing with a teenager who really does not understand exactly what is going on over on conrad roy's side. she's 40 miles away not present. only conrad row really knows why he took his own life. >> as for michelle's alleged motive she was an attention seeker. the prosecution got it all wrong. >> it was a fabricated motive. they wanted to create a motive because they couldn't take the true motive that she was suffering herself and was convinced by conrad roy to endorse his plan because that's what happened.
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>> does michelle know how bad she looks to people who don't know this side of the story or who are not seeing it this way? >> at the age of 17, she didn't understand the ramifications of what was going on. now, looking back at the circumstances, she's a totally different person. >> the trial was winding to a close. each side would get a final word. and then, the judge's dramatic ruling. coming up, the judge prepares to deliver his verdict. >> i expect the courtroom today. >> i thought that was a very good sign. >> and then a twist that left the courtroom stunned. >> please stand. m stunned. >> please stand. >> when "reckless" continues. >> when "reckless" continues hey. stop! little girl is lost. friend. she needs taken home. i am taking her to her surviving family. word is she's that captive out of wichita falls.
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after six days of testimony, both sides had their final say.
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>> what we're dealing with is a suicide and not a homicide. >> she could have easily called for help, and she didn't. >> it took juvenile court judge lawrence monez three days to reach his verdict. >> i expect that same -- >> the packed courtroom was quiet as he began reading his decision. >> the commonwealth has not proven as to that tile period that said reckless or wanted behavior caused the death of mr. roy. >> michelle looked relieved. the judge declared the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her texts caused conrad's death. >> i thought that was a very good sign. >> but the judge wasn't finished. while he acknowledged conrad had taken steps to end his life by placing the water pump in his truck, he said there was that one moment when conrad changed his mind. >> however, he breaks that chain of self-causation by exiting the
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vehicle. he takes himself out of the toxic environment that it has become. >> it was then he believed michelle became a party to his death. what's more, the judge said, she had a duty to save him. >> she called no one and finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction. get out of the truck. please stand. >> a tearful michelle stood before the judge to hear her fate. >> having reviewed the evidence and applied the law there to find you guilty on the indictment charging you with the involuntary manslaughter of conrad roy, iii. >> how did it feel hearing that word guilty after everything you've been through? >> i was surprised, actually. there needs to be an example set. you just can't allow that behavior to continue. >> we were happy, but then going home that night, driving home, it was like okay, didn't bring the peace i really was hoping
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for. >> there were no winners. just heartbreak for two families. >> i felt it was a tragedy down that's become pounded. nothing will help anything out of this. there is no healing going to happen. >> almost seven weeks later, michelle arrived back at the courthouse to a media circus to hear her sentence. she faced a maximum of 20 years in prison. >> you made your recommendation. >> yes. >> seven to 12 years. >> the defense asked for probation. >> ms. cotta does regret what happened. she also sent a letter where she accepts responsibility for her actions. >> then, the judge sentenced her. >> court now sentences you to two and a half years in the bristol county house of correction, 15 said months of said sentence should be deemed committed. >> 15 months behind bars but before michelle could be led away in handcuffs, her lawyer
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requested she be allowed to remain free pending an appeal. the judge agreed. >> i continue to be encouraged that this will be a successful appeal. >> your eyes are watering. is that because you're emotional about this? >> i'm passionate about it. i'm passionate about it. i don't like when courts make new law and apply it to a 17-year-old girl who has psychiatric issues herself. >> so this one hurt? oh, it hurt. >> and you'd put your heart and soul into this case. that was clear to anyone following this trial? >> i do get fired up about my cases, but this wone, this one was tough because i just thought the prosecution from day one was trying to push the envelope and never in massachusetts has such a case ever been brought. so this is absolutely new law and you're applying it retroactively and it should not stand. >> in october 2018, michelle
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carter's appeal went before the judicial court. four months later, the court upheld her conviction saying the evidence against the defendant proved that by her wanton or reckless conduct she caused the victim's death by suicide. michelle began serving her sentence in february 2019 and after just under a year behind bars, in january 2020, she was granted early release with credit earned for good behavior. >> i feel worse for her mother than i do for myself. >> that's a powerful statement. >> well -- >> your son died. >> i know but i had the son that i did, and i couldn't be more proud of the young man that he was, kind, selfless and compassionate. everything. >> conrad's mom says this is a hard story to tell, but she hopes sharing it will help others. >> there are children in this
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world just like conrad and i can't even imagine anything like this happening again. suddenly, there was a man with his arm around my neck and a gun to my head. i shoved my purse into his chest and i said jesus save me. and the bullet shot me right in the head and i went down. >> lord jesus. oh my god. >> it came out of nowhere, a sweet stay at home mom from a strong family of faith shot point bank at her own garage door. >> my dad is like collapsed on the g

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