Prosecutor: Cyber Bully Mom 'Preyed' On Megan Meier
Meier, who had a history of depression, committed suicide in 2006 after Drew allegedly posed as a love struck teenage boy, Josh Evans, on MySpace and later e-mailed Meier, telling her "the world would be a better place without you." Consequently, a distraught Meier hung herself.
In May, the 49-year-old O'Fallon, Mo. mother was indicted and charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to allegedly inflict emotional distress on Meier. In addition to Drew, her daughter and another teen were reportedly involved in the harassment; all have denied their involvement and have not been charged.
After failing to indict Drew under Missouri laws, the case was brought to U.S. District Court in Los Angeles since it is the headquarters of Fox Entertainment, the parent company of MySpace.
Drew was indicted on one count of conspiracy and three violations of the anti-hacking Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The Drew case is the first of its kind to be tried under the act, which, as its name implies, targets hackers.
The indictment said that in violation of MySpace's terms of service, "Drew and co-conspirators knowingly and agreed with each other to intentionally access a computer used in interstate and foreign commerce without authorization and in excess of authorized access, and by means of an interstate communication, obtain information from that computer to further a tortious act, namely, intentional infliction of emotion distress." Drew reportedly targeted Meier after the girl had a falling out with Drew's daughter, and set out to "embarrass her, to humiliate her, to make fun of her and to hurt her," O'Brien told the Los Angeles jury, according to The New York Times.
In fact, Drew was aware of Meier's fragile emotional state, O'Brien said, because Drew gave Meier anti-depressant medication while on vacation with her daughter, the paper reported.
However, Drew's lawyer, H. Dean Steward told the jury that Meier herself was abusive to Drew's daughter, and had started rumors about her.
"There are two sides to every story," said Steward.
Steward also told jurors that while "this was a deeply tragic case for everybody, most of all for Megan Meier," it should not be considered a homicide case but rather a "computer fraud and abuse case."
In a defense motion last week, Steward asked U.S. District Judge George Wu to exclude any evidence of Meier's suicide. However, Wu rejected the motion, and said that it was more than likely that prospective jurors were already aware of Meier's suicide.
The jury selection process itself was fraught with drama as many people said they could not remain impartial. Wu later instructed jurors that the focus of the case was not to determine if Drew was responsible for Meier's suicide, but rather if she violated MySpace's terms of service.
If convicted, Drew could serve up to 20 years in prision.