At some point over the last few years, you may have heard about the chilling, confusing, and incredibly tragic story of Michelle Carter, the 17-year-old girl who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her then-boyfriend Conrad Roy III to commit suicide at age 18 on July 12, 2014.
The controversial trial captivated—and even divided—the nation, as the court decided whether the text messages Carter sent encouraging Roy to take his own life were, in fact, illegal or simply immoral.
Now, a new HBO documentary, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, raises that question once again. The two-part film not only recaps her case, but reexamines it, complete with new interviews from Roy's family and Carter's lawyers. Notably, both Michelle Carter and her parents declined to take part in the documentary.
Airing on July 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. ET, the documentary film tries to present a different side of Carter, who is currently serving a 15-month jail sentence that began in February 2019. Despite losing their appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Michelle’s lawyers are nonetheless appealing her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
And while Carter’s parents, David and Gail Carter, chose not to appear in the new documentary, they were present in court throughout their daughter's entire trial.
But, who are Michelle Carter's parents, exactly?
Hailing from Plainville, Massachusetts—where they raised their daughter—David and Gail were, by all accounts, fairly normal suburban parents. David was the sales manager at a forklift supplier, while Gail staged interiors for real estate agents, per Esquire.
Before Carter was charged, Gail showed support for Roy's mother.
According to Esquire, in August 2014—before Carter's mother knew her daughter was involved in Roy's suicide—she texted his mom, Lynn Roy, "I think about you, your family, and Conrad every day. My heart breaks for all of you, as well as for Michelle, who loved Conrad as much as a 17 year old girl could."
Here's what else Roy's mother, Lynn, had to say about her son during the trial:
The Carters have repeatedly defended their daughter.
In March 2015, Carter's parents released a statement to the Boston Herald, in which they said she wasn't the "monster" the public often called her.
"Our hearts have and remain broken for the Roy family. For everyone that does not know our daughter, she is not the villain the media is portraying her to be," they wrote. "She is a quiet, kind, and sympathetic young girl. She tried immensely to help Mr. Roy in his battle with depression. We know that once all of the facts are released, our daughter will be found innocent."
Gail shared photos on social media of her daughter at Disney World after Roy’s death.
Many were shocked in May 2015 when news broke that Carter's mom, Gail, had posted several photos on Facebook of Carter at Walt Disney World with friends.
After Michelle was arrested, she was banned by a judge from using social media, but Gail continued to update her Facebook page with photos of her at prom, Disney World, etc. "'It just doesn't feel like she's grieving—and that's really confusing for us," Conrad's aunt, Becky Maki, told the Boston Herald.
David pleaded with a judge for leniency in Carter's jail sentence.
At one point, David even wrote a heartfelt letter to Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz, asking him to be lenient on Carter.
In a letter written to Moniz in 2017 that was obtained by the Boston Herald, David wrote, "I pray to God you will take into consideration that Michelle was a troubled, vulnerable teenager in an extremely difficult situation and made a tragic mistake."
"I am 100 percent sure she was only trying to do what in her mind was right for Conrad," he continued. "She has accepted the court's decision and I hope you will consider a term of probation and continued counseling for her and us. She will forever live with what she has done and I know will be a better person because of it."
He also submitted a character statement to the court.
In that statement, David suggested an answer to the question on everyone's minds: Why did Michelle Carter do it? "I am convinced the medication she was taking affected her mental state which made it difficult for her to distinguish between right and wrong," he wrote.
This was—at least partially–informed by the testimony of the defense's expert witness, Dr. Peter Breggin, MD, a psychiatrist, who said Michelle suffered from "involuntary intoxication" after switching her prescription antidepressants from Prozac to Celexa in April 2014, per Esquire.
It should be noted that, by Dr. Breggin's own admission during his cross-examination, "involuntary intoxication" is a "legal term," not an official mental health term found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Despite Carter's parents conspicuous absence from I Love You, Now Die, this may not be the last the world hears of them. It remains to be seen if they, or any of their family members, will speak out once the documentary premieres.
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