A former Boston College student who sent her boyfriend tens of thousands of frenzied text messages, some telling him to “go kill yourself,” before he jumped to his death, received a suspended sentence and probation after pleading guilty on Thursday to involuntary manslaughter.
At the hearing in Boston, Judge Robert Ullmann of Suffolk County Superior Court advised the former student, Inyoung You, 23, to live her life in a manner honoring the memory of her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, The Boston Globe reported.
The judge said he hoped Ms. You’s actions would “drive home to teens and young adults on social media that this type of messaging — demeaning someone when they’re feeling down, even suggesting suicide, can have devastating consequences.”
Ms. You was given a suspended two-and-a-half-year prison sentence and 10 years of probation. The suspended sentence means that she can avoid time behind bars if she upholds the terms of her probation, which include completing 300 hours of community service, continuing mental health treatment and abstaining from profit related to the case, her lawyer said.
Steven Kim, Ms. You’s lawyer, said the defendant gave up a pending appeal and accepted “her involuntary role in the tragic death” of Mr. Urtula.
In 2019, Mr. Urtula, then a 22-year-old student at Boston College, jumped off the Renaissance parking garage in Roxbury to his death, about an hour before he would have graduated.
During the couple’s 18-month relationship, Ms. You “engaged in deeply disturbing and at times relentless verbally, physically and psychologically abusive behavior toward Mr. Urtula,” the Suffolk County district attorney, Rachael Rollins, said in a statement on Thursday. The abuse increased in frequency and severity in the days leading up to his death, she added.
In their final text messages, Ms. You excoriated Mr. Urtula for turning off his location on his phone, which she habitually tracked, before apologizing and urging him to stop his suicide attempt.
The plea deal was made after consulting Mr. Urtula’s family, Ms. Rollins said, adding that “they believe this is something Alexander would have wanted.”
In a statement read in court, The Globe reported, Mr. Urtula’s family said: “We bear no feelings of anger or reprisal. We believe that time will take us through in the moments we mourn and celebrate his life.”
Mr. Kim said that the deal “marks the end to a two-year living hell that has upended Ms. You’s life” and that his client hopes all parties “can move on from this tragedy and have the potential for a peaceful and bright future.”
Ms. You’s immediate goals are to finish her studies and to find a job, he said, noting that she withdrew from Boston College and had been living in a “self-imposed home detention” since the case began two years ago.
Ms. You’s case echoes that of Michelle Carter, who in 2017 was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Massachusetts after urging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to take his own life in 2014. Ms. Carter served 15 months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence and is now on probation.
A bill defining coerced suicide as a crime punishable by up to five years in jail, titled Conrad’s Law after Mr. Roy, has stalled since it was introduced in the Massachusetts State Legislature more than two years ago.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, in the United States call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Go here for resources outside the United States.