Woman cleared of felonies in MySpace suicide case

Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:13pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A suburban mother who prosecutors say drove a love-struck 13-year-old girl to suicide by tormenting her with a fake MySpace persona was acquitted on Wednesday of the most serious charges against her.

Lori Drew was found guilty of three misdemeanor counts in the high-profile case, which made worldwide headlines and prompted calls for social networking sites like MySpace to crack down on such activities.

She was cleared of three felonies by the U.S. District Court jury, which deadlocked on a fourth count of conspiracy.

Drew, who created the fake profile after her daughter and neighbor Megan Meier had a falling out, showed no reaction as the verdicts were read and declined to answer questions from reporters as she left the courtroom.

The Missouri woman will face a sentence ranging from probation to three years behind bars for the misdemeanor convictions. She could have been sent to federal prison for up to 20 years if she had been convicted on the felony charges.

Prosecutors say Drew and others created the fake MySpace persona of a 16-year-old boy to woo Meier for several weeks, then abruptly ended the relationship and said the world would be better off without her.

Meier hanged herself in October 2006, just hours after she had read those final messages.

Prosecutors claimed that Drew, her daughter and a teenage employee created the profile to embarrass Meier publicly and get back at her for saying bad things about Drew's daughter.   Continued...

<p>Lori Drew arrives at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles November 26, 2008. Drew is accused of posing as a teen boy on the MySpace social networking website to tease and humiliate 13-year-old Megan Meier, who later committed suicide. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>