Lady cleared of serious charges in MySpace suicide trial
A US woman, accused of pretending to be a teenage boy on MySpace and driving a 13-year-old girl to suicide after sending her cruel messages, has been acquitted of the most serious charges against her.
Lori Drew, a 49-year-old from Missouri, was cleared of three felonies by the US District Court jury, which was deadlocked on a fourth count of conspiracy.
However, she was found guilty of three misdemeanour counts and will face a sentence ranging from probation to three years in prison.
She could have been sent to prison for up to 20 years if found guilty of the felony charges.
Prosecutors said Drew and others created a fake MySpace persona of a 16-year-old boy called "Josh Evans" to flirt with neighbour Megan Meier and lure her into an online romance, before abruptly ending it, saying the world would be a better place without her.
Just hours after "Josh" abruptly ended the relationship in October 2006, Meier hanged herself in her bedroom, completely unaware that "Josh" did not exist. She died the following day.
Prosecutors said that Drew, her daughter and a teenage employee set up the account to embarrass Meier publicly after Meier and Drew's daughter had had a falling out.
Drew allegedly deleted the hoax MySpace account after finding out about Meier's death and warned a girl who knew about it to "keep her mouth shut".
The community found out that Drew was the alleged culprit and the incident became widely known, making worldwide headlines.
Shirley Hanley, a juror on the case, told Reuters that she and her fellow panellists cleared Drew of the more serious charges because they could not be sure who typed the MySpace messages that upset Meier.
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