Probation Sought in MySpace Suicide Case

     (CN) – Attorneys for Lori Drew request probation and a $5,000 fine for the woman convicted of computer crime in the MySpace suicide case, court documents show. Drew’s lawyer, H. Dean Steward, filed a brief in Los Angeles Federal Court that revealed the recommendation.

     The case was heard in California, where MySpace is based. Sentencing is scheduled for May 18.
     Drew was convicted in November 2008 of criminally violating terms of service of the MySpace site; her maximum penalty would be 3 years in prison. The jury rejected three additional felony counts and was deadlocked on a fourth, which prosecutors have asked to be dismissed.
     Prosecutors say Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her Dardeene Prairie, Mo. home in 2006 after reading a message on MySpace from someone she thought was a boy who said the world would be better off without her. The boy was actually an invention of Drew and two others who were trying to find out what Megan was saying about Drew’s daughter.
     The charges against Drew did not allege that she was responsible for Megan’s death. Steward’s filing states that probation is reasonable but the fine is not, given that Drew was forced to abandon her business and that her family of four lives on her husband’s income which does not cover expenses each month;
     that Megan’s mother and family should be barred from testifying at Drew’s sentencing because MySpace, not Megan, was the victim of the crime;
     that Drew did not know until after Megan’s death that the teen had suffered from depression;
     that Drew’s employee, Ashley Grills, who was not charged and who testified for the prosecution, created the fictional Josh Evans and that Drew merely glanced at the first page of the profile;
     and that Drew was subjected to vicious nonstop harassment and vandalism that caused her to move from her home in O’Fallon, Mo., several months ago.
     Dardeene Prairie is 40 miles west of St. Louis.
     But prosecutors have said probation and a fine aren’t enough. In a response to Steward’s filing, prosecutors seek the maximum 3-year prison term. They say Drew’s “callousness” merits prison time and that federal sentencing guidelines that call for probation and a fine “substantially understate the seriousness of the offense.”

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