Former Boston College Student Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter After Encouraging Her Former Boyfriend to Commit Suicide

A smiling couple sit on a bench, posing for a photo

Over the years, we have discussed the prosecution of people who encourage friends or strangers to commit suicide. I have raised free speech concerns over prior prosecutions in the ambiguous line often drawn by prosecutors. The most recent case of Inyoung You, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter last week after repeatedly telling her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, to kill himself. Both were students at Boston College and had a tumultuous 18 month relationship.

The couple met at Boston College and police say that You was highly abusive to Urtule. Her calls for his suicide reportedly began after she learned that he had met with his former girlfriend.

In a case similar to that of the Michele Carter prosecution in Massachusetts, You encouraged Urtula to kill himself. This case, however, is even worse with You sending a “barrage” of more than 75,000 text messages, including repeated calls for him to kill himself. In one text to the 22-year-old, she told him “do everyone a favor and go f**king kill yourself, you’re such a f**king stupid ass worthless s**t.”  Urtule proceeded to jump off the top of a building just hours before his graduation with his family from New Jersey waiting to watch him walk across the stage.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said that You was “physically, verbally, and psychologically abusive” toward Urtula and the “abuse became more frequent and more powerful, and more demeaning, in the days and hours leading up to” his death. She stressed that she was “aware of his spiraling depression and suicidal thoughts brought on by her abuse. Yet, she persisted.”

Caitlin Grasso, an assistant district attorney, said that You used her iPhone to track Urtula’s location and was on the roof when he jumped around 8:30 a.m. He was scheduled to graduate at 10:00 a.m.

You later fled to her native South Korea and reportedly maintained that she was on the roof to try to stop him.

You’s guilty plea comes with an agreement that she will undergo mental health treatment and do community service. In addition, she may not profit from any portrayal of the case over the next 10 years.

You’s conduct is clearly disgusting and reprehensible. My concern in these cases is how such prosecutions could be used to criminalize speech related to suicide. Many advocate for the right to die and often share information on ways to killing oneself with the least amount of pain. Moreover, there are concerns about people who engage in reckless or hyperbolic speech.  There has been a long debate over the culpability of people who routinely yell up to people on ledges or bridges to jump. Historically, such horrific conduct has been treated as an exercise of free speech or at least not criminally culpable in any subsequent suicide. The problem is that free speech demands “bright lines” and this standard could not be more murky.

It is hard to raise such concerns in the context of this type of case. The loss to the Urtula family is unimaginable. The trauma of learning of Alexander’s suicide as they waited to watch him graduate must have been overwhelming. One would hope that this plea could bring even a small degree of solace for the family. However, we need to address the implications of these prosecutions and how to define this crime to avoid a broader criminalization of speech.

 

80 thoughts on “Former Boston College Student Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter After Encouraging Her Former Boyfriend to Commit Suicide”

  1. “…You encouraged Urtula to kill himself.”

    How did Jonathan know I encouraged Urtula to kill himself? I thought I covered my tracks better.

  2. Turley is wrong on this…

    Using his example… Yelling up to a jumper to jump is free speech. The person yelling didn’t put the jumper into the position to jump in the first place. They were already in the mindset of killing themselves.

    Here however, the girl badgered him enough to set him up to want to kill himself.
    So her actions of bullying caused the ex-boyfriend to want to kill himself and eventually kill himself.

    So she is guilty.

    -G

  3. Something strange is happening. The people in my city are becoming increasingly demon-possessed. There’s no other explanation for their behavior. Demons deserve to be nuked.

  4. People like her are the reason I pray to God every night for a nuclear holocaust. I wouldn’t mind dying in a nuclear war if I knew that millions of other sinners were dying with me. I have to go sometime.

  5. Off topic. A topic ignored in U.A. Media. The United Nations is against Israel and seeks another holocaust.
    America:. Withdraw from the UN today
    Hear this Biden!

  6. This is exactly what killed Agatha Christie for me. The first and last novel of hers I read was Curtain and I felt gypped that the “guilty party” provoked people to kill. Five times! Told them to do it!

  7. Olly says:

    “Preventing such assaults is not theocratic, it’s what should be common decency in a civil society.”

    Correct. But Turley asks where do you draw the line? Don’t you think a professor of law should draw some lines for discussion purposes? Instead, Turley just raises questions without doing the heavy lifting of proposing answers.

    I suppose I’ll be attacked even for making this observation….

  8. Clearly, she’s despicable. But how can it be illegal to encourage a person to do that (suicide) which is legal?

    What’s truly frightening is those who want to legislate the “word of God,” e.g., by criminalizing suicide. That’s not America. That’s a theocracy.

    1. What’s truly frightening is those who want to legislate the “word of God,” e.g., by criminalizing suicide. That’s not America. That’s a theocracy.

      Legislating “the word of God”? Criminalizing suicide? Who is suggesting that? This was not a benevolent act of assisted suicide. This was a malevolent assault on an individual resulting in his death. Preventing such assaults is not theocratic, it’s what should be common decency in a civil society.

      1. “Legislating “the word of God”? Criminalizing suicide? Who is suggesting that?”

        Religious and other leaders, since forever.

        The essence of the argument is that your life belongs to God, and is therefore not yours to take. See, for example, Augustine: “anyone who kills himself is certainly a murderer.” See also Blackstone: “Felonious homicide is … the killing of a human creature, of any age or sex, without justification or excuse. This may be done, either by killing one’s self, or another man.”

        “malevolent assault”

        It was malevolent. But it was not an “assault,” except in a metaphorical sense — as in: “An assault on my integrity.” In the law, which is the issue here, assault requires physical action that causes physical damage.

        1. Religious and other leaders, since forever.

          Let’s try sticking to examples in the 21st century.

          Who is trying to legislate the word of God? Who is trying to criminalize suicide?

          In the law, which is the issue here, assault requires physical action that causes physical damage.

          False. At Common Law, an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.

          Battery on the other hand: At common law, an intentional unpermitted act causing harmful or offensive contact with the “person” of another.

          Both definitions can be found here: https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/battery

          1. “Let’s try sticking to examples in the 21st century.”

            That’s not how basic *ideas* work. Besides, the argument that suicide is a sin is standard Catechism, to this day.

            “Who is trying to legislate the word of God?”

            See, for example, the religious arguments against abortion. More broadly, and more ominously, see “dominionism.”

            “False.”

            No, true. If you look at the entire description and definitions, you’ll see that “contact” means *physical,” as in *physical* violence — as opposed to merely using words or speech. Besides, criminal law in the U.S. is statutory, not common.

            And just to reiterate: If suicide in MA is not a crime (and it isn’t), how can inducement to commit a non-crime be a crime?

          2. Let’s try sticking to examples in the 21st century.

            Your reward is in Heaven, Olly

            For Christmas Eve dinner I prepared Cuban Roast Pork, but I asked my spouse not to wear pearls at the dinner table.

            😉

      2. It doesn’t fit the definition of assault. She’s a POS. She has a nice body though that can be put to good use. She needs to be taken on a tour of a men’s prison and get separated from her “guide” for awhile.

      1. “I guess he never heard of blocking someone”

        That’s a great point.

        It’s pretty pathetic when you’re desperate for attention, from your own abuser.

  9. Not criminal since the victim could still have declined the suggestion but it is certainly tortious as in very tortious as in reckless as in soulless as in seven figures, maybe eight.

    1. Again, Mespo provides the simple, irrefutable answer, which neither invites nor affords enhancement or amendment.

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