Criminal Justice

woman texting


A former Boston College student accused of encouraging her boyfriend’s suicide in text messages has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in his graduation-day death.

Prosecutors announced the Oct. 18 indictment of 21-year-old Inyoung You, 21, on Monday. You’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Alexander Urtula, leapt to his death from a parking garage on May 20. The New York Times, and the Boston Herald have stories.

You was present when Urtula jumped, according to a press release by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. She sent more than 47,000 text messages to Urtula in the two months before his death.

“You was physically, verbally and psychologically abusive towards Mr. Urtula during their 18-month-long tumultuous relationship,” the press released alleged. “The abuse became more frequent, more powerful and more demeaning in the days and hours leading up to Mr. Urtula’s death.”

Prosecutors said You told Urtula in texts to “go kill yourself” and “go die.” She allegedly used threats of self-harm to control Urtula.

The case has some similarities to the prosecution of Michelle Carter, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend’s 2014 suicide. Carter was sentenced to 15 months in jail by a Massachusetts judge in August 2017. She was 17 at the time of her boyfriend’s death.

Carter has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her appeal. She began serving her sentence after the top court in Massachusetts denied her appeal, the Boston Herald reports in a separate story.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins suggested in a press conference that the case against You is stronger than Carter’s case.

“In Carter, there was very limited physical contact prior and some very egregious language in the instance or moments leading up to the death. We have, quite frankly, the opposite of that. We have a barrage of a complete and utter attack on this man’s very will and conscience and psyche,” Rollins said.

Constitutional lawyer Harvey Silverglate of Cambridge told the Boston Herald that the suicide cases “put a great burden on the exercise of free speech.”

“This is the beginning of the weakening of the First Amendment,” he said.

Carter’s cert petition alleges violations of the First Amendment and the right to due process. The cert petition emphasizes that Carter wasn’t present when her boyfriend committed suicide.

“Before this case,” the cert petition says, “no other defendant had been convicted for encouraging another person to take his own life where the defendant neither provided the actual means of death nor physically participated in the suicide.”

You has returned to her country of South Korea. Rollins said in a news conference that prosecutors are “cautiously optimistic” she will return to the United States voluntarily and will pursue extradition if she does not.

The Boston Globe reports that the extradition treaty between the United States and South Korea “is not airtight.” The treaty says neither country “is bound to extradite its own nationals” but they may do so if they believe it is proper.