Judge Considers Dismissing MySpace Suicide Case

Published October 31, 2008

| Associated Press

A federal judge wants more time to consider a defense motion to throw out a case against a woman in a MySpace hoax that allegedly led to a 13-year-old girl's suicide.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu indicated he would likely reject the motion but wanted to look at arguments more closely.

"I will probably keep on wavering until the time of the trial," Wu told attorneys. Trial is slated for Nov. 18.

Lori Drew of O'Fallon, Mo., is accused of helping create a false-identity account on the social networking site and harassing her young neighbor with cruel messages. She has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization.

Megan Meier hanged herself after allegedly receiving messages saying the world would be better off without her. She was being treated for depression.

The government seeks to prosecute Drew under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which has never before been used in connection with a Web site's terms of service barring misrepresentation by users setting up new accounts.

Prosecutors argue the statute can be used against cyber bullying.

Drew's defense attorneys have argued the indictment should be dismissed because it was too broad and there was a simple breach of contract not a federal crime.

"Both sides in this case are being inventive (in their arguments) ... that gives this court a headache," Wu said Thursday.

The case is being prosecuted in Los Angeles because MySpace computer servers are based in the area.

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