The case of Megan Meier, 13, took the nation by storm. The teenager was the victim of cyber bullying from a 47-year- old neighbor who impersonated an acquaintance of Meier. The case highlighted the rise of online anger and aggression, in particular how the internet is becoming a new realm for harsh bullying.
The saga of Meier's death began when neighbor Lori Drew created a fake MySpace account, taking on the persona of an attractive 18-year-old boy named "Josh Evans". Drew concocted the plan to get back at Meier for allegedly saying things about Drew's teenage daughter, Sarah, a former friend of Megan's. She hoped to gain Megan's trust and then use the information against her.
Her daughter Sarah and her eighteen-year-old employee were in on the scheme. For weeks Drew bragged to friends and coworkers about her illegal MySpace page, which she mentioned to them was in violation of federal laws and the MySpace user agreement.
After initially romancing Meier, Drew's alter-ego began sending her nasty messages, culminating in a message where she stated, "The world would be a better place without you."
Hours later, Meier hanged herself.
Federal agents sidestepped local authorities, due to what they felt were weak local cybercrime laws. Charging Drew with federal computer charges, their case concluded Monday with closing arguments heard.
Mark Krause, an assistant United States attorney, stated in the closing arguments, "The defendant had a problem. And that problem's name was Megan Meier. Even after the tragic death of Megan Meier the defendant couldn't stop talking about her scheme."
The defense countered with Drew's lawyer, H. Dean Steward stating that Drew should not be held liable for violating the MySpace user agreement in a potentially criminal way as, according to him, when it comes to user agreements "nobody reads them." He went on to claim that the case failed to prove any violations of federal fraud statutes and that, "You'd think this was a homicide case--it's not."
Drew, who lives by St. Louis in the suburbs, is up on four federal charges -- conspiracy and three counts of accessing a computer without authorization via interstate commerce to obtain information to inflict emotional distress. Lori Drew refused to testify in the case, but her daughter testified emotionally in the closing day of the trial, bemoaning of her memory of key events, "I don't know."
The case now is in the hands of the jury.
In a related story, another teenager recently committed suicide on a video chat site, Justin.tv after being encouraged by users to kill himself.