'Cyber Bully' Mom Cleared Of Felony In MySpace Suicide Case

The 49-year old Missouri mother was cleared of the most serious charge of conspiracy in accessing a computer without authorization with the intent to inflict emotional distress after the jurors deadlocked on the count.

Meier, 13, had a history of depression and committed suicide in 2006 after Drew 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.

The jury said Drew was guilty of three misdemeanor counts of accessing a computer without authorization. Drew faces a possible sentence of three years in prison -- one year for each count -- and a $100,000 fine. Drew could conceivably receive probation instead of serving time, and if she appeals, could possibly have the charges dismissed. Drew could have drawn a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if she was found guilty of the most serious charge.

When the trial began last week, Thomas O'Brien, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, said that Drew "hatched a plan in order to prey on the psyche of a vulnerable 13-year-old."

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O'Brien 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. The Drew case is the first of its kind to be tried under The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which generally concerns hacking.

Drew's lawyer, H. Dean Steward, told the jury last week 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.