Jury to deliberate in MySpace suicide case

Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:57am EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The suicide of a Missouri teen could have been avoided had she not been tormented online by a mom who lived a few houses away, prosecutors said on Monday, describing the girl's death as a tragedy.

The jury will begin deliberating on Tuesday in the federal case against Missouri woman Lori Drew, who 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.

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

"The tragedy in this case is not just Megan Meier's suicide," U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien said in his closing arguments to jurors.

"It's the fact that it was so preventable. If, as a 47-year-old woman Lori Drew was so upset that Megan Meier had called her daughter ugly or a lesbian, she could have gone over and talked to her mom and we wouldn't be here," he said.

Drew's attorney, H. Dean Steward, also described Meier's death as a tragedy, but he reminded jurors that Drew is not accused of homicide in Meier's death.

"Please do not add to this tragedy," he said. "This has been such a woeful, woeful case and there's been so many tears here. Don't add to it by going along with the government's case."

Drew, 49, is charged with conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information for the purpose of inflicting emotional distress on Meier.   Continued...

<p>A screen grab of MySpace.com. REUTERS/www.myspace.com</p>