MySpace hoax that led to suicide may involve second person
October 15, 2008
LOS ANGELES ” The teenager who committed suicide after an Internet hoax was not the only girl exchanging messages with a fake MySpace address allegedly operated by a woman now charged in the girl’s death, the woman’s lawyer said.
Attorney Dean Steward filed a request in federal court for the phone records of a second teenage girl identified by the initials “S.D.”
His client, Lori Drew, of O’Fallon, Mo., is accused of helping to create a false-identity account on the social networking site, posing as a teenage boy and befriending her 13-year-old neighbor, Megan Meier.
Prosecutors say Megan hanged herself in 2006 after receiving messages from Drew on the fake account saying the world would be better off without her. Megan was being treated for attention deficit disorder and depression.
In his motion, Steward seeks the phone records to prove that prosecutors mistakenly linked Megan to a message that S.D. actually sent to the fake account.
Prosecutors have said the message ” listed in the Drew indictment as “Overt Act 9″ ” was sent by Megan because she was induced by Drew to flirt with the fictitious boy.
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Steward criticized the government for poor research and said S.D.’s e-mail address was on the message.
“Doesn’t that throw doubt on the rest of the overt acts?” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There are 10 overt acts and maybe they are all flat wrong.”
Steward quoted the message as saying: “Heyy babe!!! Call me sometime (phone number) It’s the cell. I love you so much.”
The lawyer said S.D. was “a juvenile that was part of a group of teenagers who were texting and e-mailing each other. There were a couple of boys involved.”
He said in his court filing that he had contacted S.D.’s relatives, who confirmed her cell phone number.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman with the U.S. attorney’s office, declined comment.
In May, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Drew on charges of conspiracy and accessing computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress. She pleaded not guilty.
The case, which is being prosecuted in Los Angeles because MySpace’s servers are based in the area, is scheduled for trial Nov. 18. A motion to dismiss charges is pending.