Michelle Carter is scheduled to be sentenced today after she was convicted of manslaughter for encouraging a high school friend to kill himself through texts and phone calls.
The prosecution will likely ask for a long sentence — as much as 20 years in prison; the defense will ask for leniency.
That's according to WGBH Legal Analyst and Northeastern professor Daniel Medwed.
He says the defense will probably point out that Carter was 17 when she committed her crime, and that she has mental health issues.
Medwed says one motivation for a long sentence is to send a message that the courts will not tolerate such behavior. On the other hand, Medwed says, "the defense perspective on that is that deterrence uses people to make a broader point, that Michelle Carter's life is at stake, and she shouldn't be used to make an example of."
Medwed also says that if Carter's guilty verdict survives any appeals, it could bear on similar cases.
"Because what makes this case unusual,” says Medwed, “is this idea that you can predicate manslaughter, basically on text messages — that her words were the weapon."
A judge found Carter guilty in June for her role in the death of her friend, Conrad Roy III. Roy committed suicide in 2014, after Carter encouraged him to do so through phone calls and text messages.