Shock twist in teen texting death
WARNING: Sensitive content
She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself in a barrage of demanding text messages.
Michelle Carter was described as an "ice queen", "evil", and "desperate for popularity" as the suicide of Conrad Roy III garnered widespread media attention around the world.
But a new documentary has painted a different portrait of Ms Carter, showing a side to her not yet seen.
Ms Carter and her parents have never publicly made a comment on the case, leaving those captivated by the events with only one side of the story - that being Mr Roy's.
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True, the then 17-year-old sent vile and aggressive texts to Mr Roy on the night of his death on July 13, 2014 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
She urged him to go through with killing himself despite him expressing he had second thoughts.
However, there is a very long, complex and sick backstory to this twisted modern love story, which has been laid barre in the two-part HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter, which is available to stream on Foxtel.
The first episode told the story as we have come to know it, and you can read a recap of it here, but the second part opens viewers up to a new theory.
NEW REVELATIONS ABOUT CONRAD'S DAD
Mattapoisett police officer Dennis Tavares was called to the stand during Ms Carter's trial in June, 2017, revealing he had arrested Mr Roy's father, also named Conrad, for assault and domestic battery against his son.
Mr Roy's parents had gone through a split. Mr Roy often confided in Ms Carter about the difficulties of their marriage breakdown, and told her on occasions his father could be violent toward him.
"At first it's kind of embarrassing but it doesn't really matter because I know what happened that night," Conrad's father says in the documentary.
"I know things got out of control and we both fought each other. And I'd do it again, just like that.
"You know, sometimes you say, like my father said to me, 'If you take a swing at me you're gonna get it … Make sure you don't do that ever again.'
"And I felt like, I had to do the same thing."
MS CARTER WAS DESPERATELY SICK
One of the key witnesses for Ms Carter was Dr Peter Breggin, who was called to the stand on day five of the trial as part of the defence.
He was originally employed to investigate whether the medication Mr Roy was on made him suicidal. Mr Roy was on antidepressants and psychiatric drugs.
"They can cause suicide," Dr Breggin says.
"I concluded it was a contributing factor, but not an overwhelming factor. There were many other things impinging on Conrad."
Dr Breggin then became interested in Ms Carter's side of the story, realising she was also on psychiatric drugs, namely Prozac (fluoxetine), which she had been taking since the age of 14.
"She should've never been given Prozac, because she was bulimic and that would increase the power of Prozac over her, and not long after her first exposure she (tried to kill herself).
"Now, at the same moment, Conrad Roy, whom at that point she thought was a sweet boyfriend without any problems, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a serious suicide attempt."
This was on October 10, 2012, which is when Mr Roy began to share dark and personal details with Ms Carter.
This is one of their text exchanges following Mr Roy's suicide attempt:
Conrad: I saw the devil already
Michelle: Me too and how did you?
Conrad: He was at the hospital one night staring at me, and he told me kill them all
Michelle: Are you serious …
Conrad: Dead serious
Michelle: I've seen him too. I see him a lot actually
Conrad: Maybe we were meant to be together. The devil brought us
Michelle: We are destined for hell then?
Michelle: But babe even if I do end up going to hell I'm happy (I'm) with you
This was just the beginning of two years of often chilling exchanges between the pair, who shared a predominantly digital relationship having only met a handful of times.
Up until two weeks before his death, on June 29, 2014, Ms Carter actually urged Mr Roy to get help because she didn't want him to die.
Conrad: Can I tell you something
Michelle: Yes of course, you don't need to ask
Conrad: There's nothing anyone can do for me that's gonna make me wanna live. It's very bad to hear, but I want to let you know that. Truthfully. We should be like Romeo and Juliet at the end
Michelle: Haha I'd love to be your Juliet :)
Conrad: But do you know what happens at the end?
Michelle: OH YEAH F***! NO WE ARE NOT DYING. The mental hospital would help you. I know you don't think it would but I'm telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life. Part of me wants you to try something and fail just so you can get help.
A FLICK SWITCHED IN MS CARTER
During the trial, Dr Breggin said Ms Carter, who was also a teenager with her own mental health issues, was led to a "dark place" by Mr Roy.
"It eventually become her idea, taken from him, that he's going to kill himself and that all he cares about is doing it swiftly and quickly and not botching it. She's following his lead into a very dark place," he said.
Dr Breggin pinpointed an exact date Ms Carter changed her tactic of trying to save Mr Roy's life. She became convinced "saving" him was helping him go to heaven.
"She was in an extremely abusive relationship," Dr Breggin says.
"This was constant harassing of her while he's not telling family, and at one point, toward the end, Conrad tells her 'the one thing that will make me hate you is if you tell anyone I'm suicidal'. And she listens.
"It was this huge pyramid of his misery and at the bottom of it is Michelle Carter and nobody else."
During the trial, Dr Breggin said on July 2, Ms Carter became - in legal terms - "involuntary intoxicated".
The US Legal website says it is a defence that is accepted or considered in most American states.
"Intoxication is a state in which a person's normal capacity to act or reason is inhibited by alcohol or drugs," the website reads.
"When a person is forced to consume an intoxicant against his/her will, the person is said to be involuntarily intoxicated. An involuntarily intoxicated person may not be able to distinguish right from wrong at the time of committing the wrongful act and therefore would have a valid defence."
In one text, Ms Carter wrote to Mr Roy, "Jesus will take care of you babe. You'll be happy and protected in heaven. I just want you to finally be happy, so so happy. Heaven needs a hero".
During the trial, Dr Breggin said, "At this point, she is involuntarily intoxicated. She's not forming a criminal intent, she's not doing anything she thinks is criminal, she's thinking that it's a good thing to help him die, that she can mitigate the circumstances.
"And like anybody who's in a hypomanic state, she gets very angry when she's disrupted. This is now the way she's found a way to finally help."
When Dr Breggin was cross-examined in the trial, he was interrogated about the leading theory Ms Carter did what she did to gain popularity - given she was an isolated teen.
This came after revelations she performed a "dry run" two days before Mr Roy's death, in which she messaged her friends fearing he'd committed suicide, even though she was texting him at the time and knew he was alive.
She wanted to see if she would garner sympathy, which formed ideas around her sketchy motivation.
But Dr Breggin said he didn't believe that was the case, in a reverse question to the prosecution.
"They (her friends) turned her into a crazy person who transformed her character and became grandiose, encouraged a young man who she loved, who she had been working with to get better, that she turned on and encouraged him to die?" he said.
"She's psychotic, diluted, disturbed, everything you're describing. Which is why I concluded she's got an involuntary intoxication."
'UNHEALTHY' GLEE OBSESSION
Ms Carter, a young, pretty teen, was a hopeless romantic. She loved romance movies and sweet comments.
She even bought Mr Roy a star, telling him "there's a certificate and everything. Conrad Henry Roy III. It's your own star because you shine so bright".
Ms Carter also had an obsession with the TV show, Glee. Namely, she loved its leading lady, Lea Michele.
She often wrote to Mr Roy using quotes from the show.
And then in July 2013, almost a year prior to Mr Roy's death, Michele's co-star and real life boyfriend Cory Monteith died of an overdose at the age of 31.
Glee made a tribute episode for Monteith, by killing off his character Finn.
"Lea Michele sings a song in his honour and everyone's devastated because the character died in the show too," Esquire journalist Jesse Barron says.
"It was an eerie piece of television. The actual actor OD'd somewhere in a hotel room in Canada but in the world of this show, it's this football quarterback who died and everyone is singing pop songs to mourn him.
"Carter then introduces that to Conrad in October 2013, she says I want you to know how much I love you and what it would be like if you weren't here.
"But the idea that she would be the person in Glee who had a boyfriend who was the football quarterback who tragically died, I think was more real to her than it probably was to most people."
In a series of texts to Mr Roy, Ms Carter uses quotes from the show but passes the words off as her own, namely this line from Michele's character, Rachel, "You were my first love, and I wanted more than anything for you to be my last."
Mr Barron said after Mr Roy's death, Ms Carter would continue to use quotes from Glee and its actors when texting.
"One of the eerie parts is she's using quotes from Lea Michele, they don't all come from Glee, they come from real talk shows and real quotes from the actress," he says.
"This is weird. This is really weird. I think it translates she identified really strongly with this other world, this other life.
"She connected with Lea Michele on a profound level that went beyond normal teens identifying with a star."
MS CARTER'S SECRET LESBIAN CRUSH
Ms Carter started to develop feelings for a girl named Alice, who she met in her softball team in the spring of 2012.
Ms Carter texted one of her friends admitting she had feelings for Alice and the pair were "flirting" before Alice's mum forced her daughter to cut ties.
But Ms Carter never stopped thinking about Alice.
"In 2014 in the summer, Michelle for some reason starts really missing Alice and this is all happening around the time Conrad gets really suicidal," Mr Barron says.
In a text to her friend, Michelle writes: "I still really love Alice and I can't get myself away from it and it's a problem because I'll just compare everyone to her. I love Conrad with everything that I am … But I'm still in love with Alice. I think about her all the time."
Mr Barron continues, "I called Alice and asked to interview her because it sounded like Michelle was really in love with her, and I met Alice and her mother.
"The reason they were meeting me was to refute that story. They were meeting to say Michelle is a psychopath, she made it all up, there was never anything physical about the relationship.
"In that moment I felt a sympathy for how alone (Michelle) was. She had this desire for things to be more intense. More like stories, than they really were."
THE LATEST ON THE CASE
On Monday last week, Ms Carter's lawyers called her conviction "unprecedented" and said her case raised crucial questions about whether "words alone" were enough to hold someone responsible for another person's suicide, urging the US Supreme Court to hear her appeal.
"Michelle Carter did not cause Conrad Roy's tragic death and should not be held criminally responsible for his suicide," Daniel Marx, one of her lawyers, said in an emailed statement. "This petition focuses on just two of the many flaws in the case against her that raise important federal constitutional issues for the US Supreme Court to decide."
Carter was jailed in February after Massachusetts' highest court unanimously upheld her conviction in the death of the then-18-year-old Roy. Carter, now 22, is serving a 15-month sentence.
Mr Cataldo, another one of Ms Carter's lawyers, says in the documentary they would appeal for "as long as it takes".
I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter part 2 premieres on Fox Showcase tonight at 8.30pm