A Massachusetts woman’s conviction for involuntary manslaughterwas upheld by that state’s high court after a lower court found her guilty of the charge after she encouraged her boyfriend by text messages to follow through on his suicide. The Massachusetts involuntary manslaughter law is very similar to the law in California. Both states define involuntary manslaughter as act not intended to cause the death of another person but was committed in such a careless way that a death of another occurred. In Massachusetts, the act is defined as “wanton and reckless conduct,” while in California it is defined as “without due caution.”
Some typical examples of involuntary manslaughterinclude the Dr. Conrad Murry/Michael Jackson case where the doctor prescribed what ultimately was a lethal dose of a drug. Another example might be where a worker dies due to a dangerous condition in the workplace and the owner was aware of that condition.
But the Massachusetts case is not the typical manslaughter case. In that case, the young woman’s boyfriend parked his truck in a parking lot and then diverted carbon monoxide from the truck into the cab where he was sitting. He started to have second thoughts and texted his girlfriend. Instead of talking him out of it, she egged him on, telling him to get back in the truck and finish the job. Her text messages included statements such as “the time is right” and “your family will understand and accept it.” Apparently, her boyfriend had been struggling with depression, which made him a “vulnerable person” according the Massachusetts court. The high court found that the “coercive quality” of the young woman’s text messages overwhelmed the compromised willpower of the depressed boyfriend and had it not been for her encouragement, he would not have stepped back into his truck and killed himself.