tv Dateline MSNBC October 24, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT
the memory dims, what would you sit down and tell them about their mother? >> mainly how much she loved them. she did. those kids were everything to her, and, you >> i'm craig melvin, >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> i know he is my son, but he was the kindest person i ever met. he was definitely god's gift to me. -- >> are you sure? what are you talking about? >> we all need to be strong
together. >> grieving alongside his family. >> she sent messages of condolences. the strong together. >> she gave me a lot of support. just there for me when i needed her. >> but was there something about the two that no one knew? >> what are you seeing? >> a series of messages. i >> had to read them a couple of time to really take it all in. >> >> they took it all in. >> literally shocking. >> a trail of text messages, leading to the darkest of discoveries. keeping all the >> keeping all the light history is difficult. she did it masterfully. >> i closed my eyes and i said, this is not real. >> a twist no one saw coming. and a story that every parent needs to see. >> we need to know what is going on in our kid's lives, can it be very scary when you don't.? >> hello and welcome to "dateline". 18-year-old conrad roy battled depression and anxiety. then
one night the >> but seemed to be finding his way. he was headed to college and excited about his new job. then one night the teenager vanished, turns out he a dark secret, one he shared with someone chose to him. what that person did and did not do next would shatter two families. here's andrea canning with reckless. it began as a chance encounter between two teens on vacation. >> she was a family friend that he met in florida. >> and ended two years with one of them dead. >> he was smiling before he left the house. and then he was dead. a few hours after. >> and apparent suicide. >> he did it seem like he was in any imminent danger? >> not at all. >> but there was danger from something teens do all the time. texting. their cyber romantic and there've and gripped the nation and the people in vault with
the case gives us the inside story. the tech tactics who investigated the case -- >> it just keeps getting. worse >> a grieving father -- >> i could fix a lot of things, but i just couldn't fix my sense. >> a distraught family members who feel a treat. >> i just didn't know. >> hi, this is conrad. >> >> our story starts can conrad, his mother said he was a easy child. >> what kind of a kid was he? >> definitely sensitive. never gave me a hard time with anything. did well in school, had friends, loved baseball. >> 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 goof ball, the happiest child, he was always happy. >> conrad grew up in and around the old fishing town of new bedford, massachusetts, where his father and grandfather run a tugboat and barge business. his father said it seemed that he was destined to take to the sea from day one.
>> after he was two or three days old, my dad brought him on the tug boat. i wanted him to follow in my footsteps. i was hoping that he would be able to just, you know, take over the business someday. >> not only was conrad the first born in the roy family, he was also the first grandchild. his aunt, chrissie roy, said his cousins adored him. >> my son would follow him around like a duck. he was the cousin that everyone looked up to. >> but in high school, his mom says the happy go lucky son started to change. >> his father and i divorced and i don't know any child that is not affected by divorce. >> he was 16? >> yeah. and it was going through the hormones and he obviously had anxiety depression. it just manifested at that time. >> he talked about it in this
video diary. >> i feel like i'm wired differently than everyone else. like there's something wrong with me. >> it was at 16, while struggling with anxiety depression, that conrad encounter a 15 year old girl named michelle carter. they met when conrad and his sisters went and visited family in florida. >> this was supposed to be some r and r? >> yeah, a week during school vacation. >> had her grandparents were friends with our great aunt, and they all hung out with her for just a short while. >> when they returned from florida, conrad and michelle continued to stay in touch through text messages. michelle lived in plainville, massachusetts, about an hour away from conrad, the two had a lot in common. she was a softball player, and he played baseball. friends described them as quiet and funny and they communicated regularly, but conrad's aunt becky said he never mentioned michelle. >> he other girlfriends where
you knew their names and you met them. she was not somebody 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. on the day he was discharged, he attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of cough syrup. >> he felt bad and i said, conrad, you have no idea how much you are loved and appreciated. he swore 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. >> that must have been a really big day. conrad getting his captain's license. >> it was. i was very proud of him. >> are you feeling good about the place he is in? >> i felt that he was still
struggling but i felt very positive that he was not going to do anything to harm himself. >> it was right around this time when conrad recorded that private video sharing his inner most thoughts. >> i feel like i still have a long way to go to recover from the social anxieties, feeling of insecurity. but if i keep talking, keep talking, it's going to get better. >> on july 12th, conrad headed to the beach with his mom and two sisters. lynn vividly remembers walking the shoreline with her son. he seemed in good spirits that day. >> we talked about school, and he was like, i'm not sure where i am right now in my head. i said, well, you just got your captain's license, you don't have to worry about anything right now. >> he is looking toward the future? >> yeah. >> when they return the beach, conrad drove his sisters to get ice cream. >> he was laughing and i said
something and he was, like, smiling. >> conrad told his mom he was going to his friend's house and would not 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 night, 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 was not home. she called around and drove by his friend's house but could not finds him. conrad was missing. >> a son disappears, a mom worries, and a dad receives a troubling clue. >> coming up. >> they saw his truck with the caution tape around it. >> the news is about to go from bad to worse. >> i said, are you sure? what are you talking about?
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roy iii was missing. his family and friends, growing more frantic by the hour, searched everywhere for him. by mid morning, his mom called 911. that evening, about 24 hours after conrad left his house, his father got >> i. i have to report my sentencing. >> that evening, after calk 24 hours after comrade left his house. his father got a call.
>> a family friend said they saw his truck at k-mart with caution tape around it. >> so you go to k-mart. >> yeah, 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 felt like i was drugged. >> i couldn't eat. slept in the same clothes for days. >> it was 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? i just saw him? >> it just felt like all the blood dreamed out of your body to hear that kind of news. >> detective scott gordon of the fear he even 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 the truck and he passed away
as a result of the carbon monoxide. >> to those who knew comrade best, it didn't make sense. did they miss something? hundred have been getting help, taking medication and seemed hopeful about his future. his grandmother remembered him using that very pump to help out his dad just days before. >> i can still see the smile on his face, just a little smirky smile that he always. >> and his father recalled the two of them working on a job together a week earlier, setting up fireworks on a barge. >> we were laughing. watching fireworks. he seemed kind. the last thing i said to him it was, i love you. >> 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 linda through text messages, consoling her saying can read loved her very much. >> did you feel like you were
getting support? just a connection to congress somehow? >> oh, absolutely. she told me so many great things about myself that he had said. i don't know, she was just there for me when i needed her. >> conrad's aunts also remember getting messages from michelle. >> she sent messages of conolenscences, that she never tried so hard to save someone and she wished she could have saved him. she came through at the wake and introduced herself. >> i was a little shocked the when she said i'm conrad girlfriend. it was like, i had no idea. never heard of her name. >> among conrad's things were goodbye letters that he written to people. like this one to michelle. >> it was very positive, keep doing what you are doing, michelle. keep moving on and doing great things. and -- >> after reading this letter, you must have thought that conrad and michelle had a special friendship that he wrote her this letter. >> yeah, i was happy that she was in his life. 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, had this is really impressive. here is a teenager. high school senior. and she is only a month later starting to plan this large fundraiser. >> conrad's whole family showed up. had his aunt chrissie was impressed with michelle, then just 17. >> i went up to her parents at the fundraiser and i said, you must be so proud of your daughter, she is quite an amazing girl. a minister the family, detective gordon was digging for answers. hoping to discover why comrade may have taken his own life. >> i found out that 18 year old who do it in that manner. >> the detective figure there were clues on comrades telephone, found on his truck. and sure enough, he discovered a string of text messages left on the phone from just one
person. >> that was michelle carter. >> he deleted all other text conversations with all other people? >> correct. >> and when the detective started to read the texts, he could not believe what he was seeing. >> it was one of those things where you keep reading and it keeps getting worse. and that put everything in motion. >> coming up -- the text messages no one could fathom. >> i had to read them a couple of times to really sort of take it all in. >> words that raised a disturbing question, was this a suicide or something else. >> i closed my eyes and i said, this is not real. >> when "dateline" continues.
family was reeling from his apparent suicide. the teenager left goodbye letters, including went to michelle carter. now investigators were focused on other messages that the teen shared. and what they uncovered would turn the case on its head. once again, here is andrea canning with reckless. >> two days after comrade roy's death, detective scott gordon had found a clue. and it was a bombshell. a string of text messages from michelle carter on comrades 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 unimaginable. he learned michelin contract has been texting like teenagers do for almost two years. but a few weeks before his death, something changed. it seemed michel started a campaign to get comrade 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's a lot of ways. gordon's partner, detective glenn cut more also worked the case. >> he was looking at something to the effect of, i can't believe what i am reading. >> what kinds of things was she? saying >> things like, you promised me, why haven't you done yet? you disappointed me. i will take care of your family. >> the detectives poured over thousands of text messages. and the more they read the more they became disturbed, like this exchange in early morning hours before comrade died.
you can't think about it, you just have to do it. he said you are going to do it. like, i don't get why you aren't. comrade responded, i don't get it either. i don't know. carter typed back, so i guess you want going to do within. all that for nothing. i'm just confused. like, you are so ready and determined. comrade wrote back, i am gonna eventually. i really don't know why i am 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? >> and you can break a promise. and just 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 detective that comrade had died by his own hand. but was what michel did actually crime? >> detective gordon detected
contacted mary claire flynn. assistant da. >> he said, will you take a look at these text messages? i said sure i will. and it was a truly shocking. she checked with kelly rayburn, a colleague at the time, and they agreed that those text messages warranted further investigation. >> i couldn't believe what was in. them i had to read them a couple of times. >> clearly it's black and white for you. you know it's wrong. but is it black and white, we are going to go forward with this, is this a crime? i would imagine, for you, it's complicated. >> yes, and with all investigations, it's our duty and responsibility to follow everything where it takes us. until the evidence was taking us to carter. >> so the commonwealth office told detectives to keep digging and find out more about michel carter. >> first reaction when you see her picture? >> she's young, just a kid. and the words that she was saying in her text messages, it just didn't seem feasible. >> during the investigation,
detective cod more went undercover. at that fund-raiser, home works for comrade. he secretly took photos of my shelves every move to ensure that she was the one who sent the tax. and one step further. he videotaped michele as he dial the number from comrades phone. you are watching? her >> answering the phone? >> yes. >> -- that's a good sign? >> that we had the right person. >> let it stay on for a few seconds, muted. i remember calling scott and saying, are we sure we have the right girl? she just seemed so normal. >> a few months later, as the investigation continued, detective gordon decided to pay michel carter visit. he found her after school and approached her. >> michelle, the reason we came out here is because we were looking into con reds unfortunate passing. >> and she has no idea that she has 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. >> at first, michelle told the detective that she tried to talk comrade out of suicide. >> how did you help him to try and see that suicide wasn't the right thing to do? >> well, i told him a lot of things. i told him that i loved him. >> yup. >> i told him that a lot of people loved him. and how without him nothing would be the same. i had personal issues that i got help for. and i told him that he should come with me and get the help 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 comrade on the day he died. >> did you think you had contact with him that day? >> i don't think so. >> yeah. >> the detective knew that that was a lie. >> we have a search warrant for your phone.
okay? so we will be taking it. >> wait, so you are taking my phone? >> yes. >> when we took her phone i think she started to understand a bit that we were looking for their into it than she expected. >> he followed her home and says that michelle's parents were very cooperative. >> they provided us with everything we needed. and we left for her cell phone and laptop. >> michelle has to know what is going on. her parents, are they totally in the dark? >> i believe, so absolutely. >> after going through all the evidence, including michele's phone and computer, prosecutors were convinced that michele was criminally responsible for comrades death. >> words can harm and you don't have the ability to just say your words aren't criminal. because they are protected by free speech. there is precedent for these cases to be charged with voluntary manslaughter, under encouraging suicide. >> what is the law?
>> involuntary mont slaughter involves reckless conduct that could cause someone's death. and she could cause someone's death. >> in other words, michele should have believed that encouraging comrade to kill himself could result in him dying. prosecutors now had the difficult task of telling comrades family what they uncovered. >> it was just unbelievable. i was thinking, she's holding his head underwater. you could tell that he didn't want to die. her message is overpowered him. >> i closed my eyes and said this is not real. how can someone have an involvement in someone's death? knowingly encouraged it? >> did you just feel like you had been duped. she has been consoling you this whole time. >> i'm a very forgiving person and the only thing i can say about the way that she was with me ease that, she is just really, really not well.
>> the grand jury indicted michelle for involuntary manslaughter. she pleaded not guilty. that's when the world heard the story for the first time. and the debate began. was comrade's death a suicide or a homicide? >> coming, up a jaw-dropping theory about motive. >> why would she do this? >> she wanted the attention. >> and that trial, michel makes a stunning decision. >> only involuntary? >> it's a choice she will regret. when dateline continues. ine continues. forty percent of people with type 2 diabetes will develop chronic kidney disease, or ckd. did you know ckd can lead to kidney failure and dialysis? kidney alert! ckd often has no symptoms until it's too late! help protect your kidneys. call your doctor for a uacr test. it shows one of the earliest signs for ckd.
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kennedy's assassination nearly 60 years ago. the white house says that archivist need until december 2022 to review the redacted materials. now back to dateline. ck to dateline welcome back to dateline, i'm natalie morales. michelle carter had been arrested and charged with the death of congress roy. the evidence was chilling text messages that michele sent con red, who's troubled with depression, urging him to kill himself. now the case was headed to trial but the prosecutors prove what she downward is a crime? once again, here is andrea canning with reckless. >> michelle carter was facing involuntary manslaughter charges for doing something teenagers do all the time. texting. and calling each other. and the world was watching. prosecutors mary claire flynn and katie rayburn understood
why. >> this affects everyone, adults, teenagers. even parents with kids who don't even have phones yet. >> absolutely. i think it's good to be thinking about what you are putting out there in the world. once you have said it, you can't take it back. >> prosecutors believe that michelle's words and actions call is a vulnerable comrade to kill himself. he described his fragile state in a video diary. some >> racing thoughts. suicidal thoughts. flashbacks of hard times. and prosecutors learned that she sent more then text messages. as carbon monoxide filled his truck, michelle was talking to him on the phone. >> there were two new phone calls after the text messages. one from him to her, 41 minutes. and then one from her to him for over 42 minutes. >> but how would they ever know
what we said on those calls? detectives called poured over thousands of text messages on the got their answer. >> lo and behold, on their phone, there was text messages to her friends, describing the phone conversation. >> reporter: the detective said that a message sent to her friend, samantha borden. >> his death is my fault. honestly i could have stopped him. i told him to get back in after he got out of the car. >> as much as we were in shock about her language, once we read that, that was really disturbing. >> prosecutor flynn said that another message made it clear that she knew what she did was wrong. >> they are going through things to see if anybody texted him or encouraged him. but they read my text messages and i'm done. his family will hate me and i
will go to jail. >> that's was at stake and june 5th. almost three years after congress death. at the bristol county courthouse in tottenham massachusetts, michelle carter went on trial. the drama began almost immediately and instead of having the case before a jury, michelle at the last minute chose to let the judge decide her fate. >> are you doing it of your own free will, knowingly and voluntarily? >> yes. in her opening statement they do a straight line from a shell badgering in bowling to the suicide in the car that night. >> she assisted and advised and planned his suicide, she reasoned him out of his reservations and told him that once he was dead, he would be free and happy. he kept saying, i don't want to do this, it will hurt my family. and she said, don't worry about them. all the fears he brought up, she went around him and convinced them it was not real.
>> people will say, everyone is responsible for themselves. he made that decision to do that. >> personal responsibility, that is important. but that being said, it was clear from the text messages and especially her text message where she said, he got out of the car and she told him to get back in the car. he didn't want to do it. >> michelle described listening to conrad die. >> sam, he just called me and there was a loud noise like a motor and i heard moaning like someone was in pain. and he would not answer when i said his name. i stayed on the phone for like 20 minutes. and that is all i heard. he killed himself. >> as the trial continued, there was a nagging question. >> why would she do this? >> she wanted the attention. >> when her friends were not hanging out with her or not spending time with her, she would say and do things to try
and get their attention. she wanted them to be friends with her. >> it was a shocking theory. prosecutors are basically saying that michelle convince comrade 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 comrades shortly before he died. >> she says, am i your girlfriend? he talks about something else. and she says, no, am i a girlfriend? i need to know, so i can tell people. i think you want to confirmation of the label for four he died. >> a day before his death, prosecutors say michel tested out her plan of being the grieving girlfriend. she texted sam, i'm losing hope, i think he really did it. even though she knew comrade was alive. three minutes later, she texted comrade. the generator will work 100% and quick. i don't get why you don't just use that. >> she's telling her friends that she's missing. and he might commit suicide. but she knows exactly where she is. and then she made sure to
instruct him before he died that he should write a suicide letter. and that his last tweet should be to her, because she wanted to get the shout out from him. >> yes. >> the commonwealth also claimed that she 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. please tell me this is a joke. >> and she continued to send 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 were not going to do anything. but you bleep did it and i'm so sorry is i didn't save you. it was agonizing for conrad's family to sit in the courtroom and hear these new details. >> it was pretty shocking. a lot of times it doesn't seem real. >> do you believe in your heart
that it was criminal? >> i do. for someone in a fragile state and you persuade them in the worst way possible. yeah, definitely is criminal. >> social anxiety in me is -- >> lynn said her son's own words a month before he died show he wanted to live. >> i want to recover from this. i feel like i have not recovered from it yet. i do have a lot going for me. i just got a job on the boston -- to captain their boat, that's a huge accomplishment. >> there was another side to the story. michelle's. and her lawyer was certain the law was on her side. >> it's a tragedy. it's horrible. but it's just not criminal. >> the defense digs in to test messages that prosecution did not share in court. was michelle trying to prevent conrad's suicide? >> 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 to not commit suicide. when "dateline" continues. plan is right for them. hey, that's me. i barely know where to start. well, start here with me, karen. i'm a licensed humana sales agent. well, it's nice to meet you karen. i'm john smith. hi john. at humana we know you're unique so you have different needs from other john smiths. yeah, i've always thought so. and together we can find a plan that's right for you. great! i go to the doctor a couple of times a year and i have some prescriptions. but i'm never fully sure what's covered and what's not. with humana's all-in-one medicare advantage plans you get coverage for hospital stays, doctor visits and part d prescription drug benefits. all for an affordable and sometimes no monthly plan premium. do you have any more information? sure, i'll get a decision guide in the mail to you today. they're free. finally, someone who understands
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prosecutors portrayed her as a blurry who pressured comrade into killing himself because she claimed craved attention. but the defense was about to counter, claiming that michele was a victim. continuing with reckless, here is andrea canning. >> it wasn't easy for ed mcfarland to sit in the courtroom and hear michelle described as a monster. to him, michelle was anything but. who was the michelle you knew? >> she was a quiet kid. helpful, friendly and got along with everybody. and everyone seemed to get along with her. you know, senior class was the kid most likely to brighten your day. >> ed was her softball coach, had known the carter family for years. >> were these the parents that came to every game? >> there was always somebody at the game. if you needed somebody to do something. you did not have to ask them twice if you needed help with anything. >> he has been supportive of michelle and her family and was outraged that she was ever charged. >> it's a travesty, she was not
there. we have gone down a slippery slope here. if somebody being on the phone talking about committing suicide can be held to involuntary manslaughter. >> michele's attorney agrees it's a slippery slope. he thinks the commonwealth made a mistake. >> this is an overreach of the prosecution. from day one until this day, i said, i don't think a crime was committed. >> massachusetts has no law against encouraging suicide. >> right. >> and so it's troubling that they would bring on manslaughter. >> that was the basis of his whole argument. prosecutors misinterpreting massachusetts law. to him, this was clearly a suicide. that's why he wanted a judge, not a jury to hear the case. >> i thought the judge would apply the correct law on the facts that conrad roy was so suicidal that michelle carter did not cause his death. >> and that's 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, have you thought about getting professional help? like, i think i'm gonna go away to a place to help me over come my eating disorder. >> where are you going? it's called mclean hospital, envelopment, massachusetts. i think it would be so good for you and we would get through our issues together. >> michelle carter was trying to talk him out of it. go to mcclain hospital. they will help you. she had nothing but resistance from conrad roy. >> one of the main points of your argument was that conrad roy had tried it before. he researched various ways to take his own life. that this was not something that was just created by michelle carter. >> right. michelle for a year
and a half always tried to persuade him not to commit suicide. he always rejected her thoughts of staying alive. and it was not until literally the last two weeks of his life where michelle finally endorsed his plan. >> i think that's where people have the biggest problem with this case is why? why would she encourage him? and she is supposed to be his friend? >> well, she came to the realizization that he did not want to live anymore. and his words were, i will only hate you if you tell somebody about my plan. while the prosecution presented michel as a -- >> the defense portrayed her as a victim who was taking antidepressants for her own mental health issues and ways no shape to help a suicidal friend. >> she was going through her own struggles. >> she was remembered by his suicidal thinking and so you take that and you mix in her
own issues that she was struggling with, even disorder. and then eventually being diagnosed with a major depressive disorder herself. >> the defense called an expert witness, psychiatrist doctor peter bergen, to the stand. he testified that the antidepressant that michele was taking impaired her judgment. >> she was in meshed in a delusional system. >> sorry, what? >> and mashed in a delusion where she is thinking that it is a good thing to help him die. >> he also testified that he believed that comrade was in control of the relationship and that he used the vulnerable and depressed michelle to help him commit suicide. >> he was constantly telling michelle, and not telling his other friends, will you help me. >> the biggest hurdle for the defense was michelle's in addition -- michelle's admission of guilt. if you read the entire statement, she says, it's my fault, i told him to get back
in. but then it continues to say, i didn't think he was ultimately going to do it. i wanted him to get help, i feel so badly about this. >> but on one hand you are saying she didn't think he was going to get back in. she wanted him to get help. but then on the other hand, though, you are saying that she was kind of -- had sort of succumb to, okay, i will help him, he should do it if you want to do with that badly. >> right. >> so which -- >> she was all over the place. she was both. >> as for michelle's alleged motive, that she was an attention seeker, the prosecution got it all wrong, he says. >> it was a fabricated motive. they wanted to create a motive. because they could not trick the true motive that she was suffering herself and was convinced by conrad roy to endorse his plan. because that's what happened. >> does michelle know how bad she looks to people who don't know this side of the story or who are not seeing it that way. >> at the age of 17, she did not understand all the ramifications of what was going on. now, looking back at the circumstances, she is a totally different person.
>> the trial was wind into 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 a quorum today. >> i thought that was a very good sign. >> >> when "dateline" continues. why hide your skin if dupixent has your moderate-to-severe eczema or atopic dermatitis under control?
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michelle carter's trial had sparked heated debates in legal circles and in living rooms across the globe. she was charged with causing the death of conrad roy. the controversial case hinged on a thorny question. would conrad have carried out his suicide plan without michelle's encouragement. a judge was about to render his verdict, here is andrea canning with a conclusion of reckless. >> after six days of testimony, both sides had their final say. >> what we are dealing with is a suicide and not a homicide. >> she could have called for the help and she doesn't. >> it took the judge, lawrence mones, three days to reach the verdict. >> i expect the -- >> the packed courtroom was quiet as he began reading his decision. >> the commonwealth has not proven as to that time period that said reckless or wonton 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 good sign. >> but the judge was not finished. while he acknowledged conrad had taken steps to end his life by placing the water pump in his truck. he said that there was that one moment when conrad changed his mind. >> however, he breaks the chain of self-causation by exiting the 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 had him. >> she called no one. and finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction. get out of the truck. >> ms. carter, please stand. a tearful michelle stood before
the judge to hear her fate. >> >> having heard the evidence and applying the law there to, now find you guilty on the indictment of charging you with the involuntary manslaughter of conrad roy iii. >> how did that hear after everything that you had been through? >> i was surprised. there needs to be an example set, you cannot 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 for. >> there were no winners. just heartbreak for two families. >> i felt it was a tragedy now that has been compounded. nothing is going to help anything out of this. there's no healing going to happen. >> almost seven weeks later, michelle arrived back at the courthouse to a media circus to hear their sentence. she faced a maximum of 20 years in prison. >> you made your recommendation. >> yes?
>> 7-12 years. >> the defense asked for probation. >> ms. carter regrets what has happened and sent a letter where she accepts responsibility for her actions. >> then, the judge sentenced her. >> court now sentences you to 2-1/2 years in the bristol county house of corrections. 15 months of said sentence shall be deemed a committed sentence. >> 15 months behind bars. but before michelle could be led away in handcuffs, her lawyer 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 are 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. >> in october, 2018, michelle carter's appeal went before the massachusetts supreme 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 death by suicide. michelle began serving her sentence in february, 2019. and just after a year behind bars in january 2020 she was granted early release for good behavior. >> i feel worse for her mother then i do for myself. >> that's a powerful statement. your son died. >> i know, but i had the sound that i did. and i couldn't be more proud of the young man that he was. kind, selfless and compassionate. everything.
>> comrades mom says this is a hard story to tell. but she hope sharing it will help others. >> there are children in this role just like con red, and i cannot imagine anything like this happening again. >> that's all for this edition of dateline, i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. u for watching i'm craig melvin and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. >> i was tied up in tortured. these people almost murdered me. >> i was terrified. i'm >> a mother just fighting for her child. that's universal. some >> she survived a harrowing ordeal in one of the most dangerous places on earth. >> tonight they have brought me