Inyoung You, Who Urged Boyfriend to Kill Himself in Texts, Pleads Guilty, Avoids Prison

Inyoung You pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts after sending text messages to her boyfriend to commit suicide.

Under the plea deal in the death of her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, who committed suicide on May 20, 2019, You received a 2 1/2-year suspended jail sentence and 10 years of probation. She will not be incarcerated as long as she adheres to the mandates of her probation. The former Boston College student will be required to undergo mental health treatment and complete community service.

More than 47,000 text messages sent by You were recovered, many of which urged Urtula to kill himself. Some of the text messages urged Urtula to harm himself in what the Boston Herald said was her attempt to control him.

You, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in South Korea, admitted to sending the texts in court and her attorney, Steven Kim, said that she was "a wonderful young woman who has deep, deep remorse" for her actions.

"This agreement with defense counsel was made in close consultation with the Urtula family. It is consistent with their desire to seek accountability and closure and to protect the legacy of Alexander, a loving son, brother, and uncle," Boston District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. "They believe this is something Alexander would have wanted."

As part of her plea deal, You will be barred from participating in any media coverage, so she will be banned from profiting on the case by telling her side of the story in documentaries, press conferences or other media events.

Inyoung You
Inyoung You, whom prosecutors say drove her boyfriend to take his own life with thousands of text messages, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on December 23, 2021. Above, You leaves Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on November 22, 2019. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

The investigation described You and Urtula's 18-month relationship as "tumultuous, dysfunctional, and unhealthy," and found You, "engaged in deeply disturbing and at times relentless verbally, physically and psychologically abusive behavior toward Mr. Urtula," according to Rollins' statement released after Thursday's hearing.

Those actions intensified in the days and hours before Urtula's death, the office said.

"Words matter," Rollins said in the statement. "Demeaning language, ridicule and verbal abuse can deeply impact people."

The family in a statement read in court described driving to Boston for a day of celebration and instead finding themselves planning a funeral.

"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," the family said.

Before her arraignment in November of 2019, when she originally pleaded not guilty, You, through a public relations firm, released text messages suggesting she tried to stop Urtula and alerted Urtula's brother in the moments before his death.

You's lawyer said in court that his client is "very distraught" and deeply remorseful.

The case was compared to that of Michelle Carter, who garnered national headlines and an HBO film. The young Massachusetts woman was sentenced to 15 months in jail after she was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for using text messages and phone calls to encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself in 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.