LOS ANGELES -- Was she a typical teenager, led to suicide by a reckless adult? Or a deeply disturbed girl, upset over her parents’ troubled marriage and pre-disposed to kill herself?
These are the scenarios faced by jurors in the infamous MySpace death case in LA’s U.S. District Court.
Thirteen-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself in her bedroom two years ago, despondent over messages she had received over the social networking site from a boy she believed to be named "Josh Evans." After what seemed to be a blossoming relationship, the boy started sending her derogatory, insulting messages and breaking off what they had together.
As it turns out, the boy didn’t exist at all; he was a fictional persona cooked up by the mother of one of her classmates.
Meier testified that her daughter had "attempted suicide" on at least two previous occasions, a fact that had been brought to the attention of counselors at her suburban Missouri school.
"I looked at her wrists and there were some marks and she was covering them with her shirt," said Meier, when attorney Dean Steward asked her about one such consultation.
Meier also testified that her daughter had taken medication to control her depression, and that she had expressed concern to her and friends over the state of her parents’ marriage, which had, in the months leading up to her death, devolved into disagreement and shouting matches.
"Megan did not like - nor does any child like - when her parents argue," said Meier.
But were these pre-existing conditions enough to cause her death?
Steward has emphasized to the jury that the case has less to do with her suicide than it does the actions of Lori Drew, who faces four federal counts of computer fraud and conspiracy. In fact, Megan and her family are not even listed as victims - MySpace is.
That’s why the case is being tried in southern California, where MySpace’s parent company is located.
Also testifying Thursday: Christina Chu, a hair stylist who testified she overheard Lori Drew talking about the deception in her Missouri salon.
"She said she had a funny story about posing as a boy on the Internet," said Chu, "to fool a girl…They were sending instant messages back and forth."
Chu testified that she had told Drew what she was doing "was wrong," but received no response.
Then, days after news of Meier’s death had become common knowledge, Drew visited the salon again to attend a wake in the girl’s honor.
"Did you ask her why she was going to the wake?" asked prosecutor Thomas O’Brien.
"What was her response?"
"She said, ‘It’s not like I pulled the trigger.’"