Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cyberbullying Not a Homicide Case

We have a thirteen year old girl named Megan. She was emotionally unstable to the point where she had already made an attempt on her own life.

We have a 49 year old woman named Lori Drew and her thirteen year old daughter, Sarah, who created a fake online personality. They used this personality, named "Josh", to harass and manipulate Megan in to committing suicide.

They eventually mocked her and told her that the world would be better off without her. Megan shortly thereafter committed suicide.

This is what gets me:
Defence attorney Dean Steward told jurors ... she [Lori Drew] was not facing charges dealing with the suicide.

“This is not a homicide case,” Mr. Steward said.

Why not?

What on earth would it take to make it a homicide case? You went after a vulnerable, mentally unstable teenager and basically told her to kill herself. And this isn't murder?

Suppose you walked out on a balcony of an apartment building and found a mentally disabled person standing against the railing. Suppose you then told this person that he could fly and you encouraged him to jump to his death.

Wouldn't you be guilty of murder?

Even then, that's only (only?) murder in the second degree or manslaughter or whatever. In the case of Megan's death, we're talking about legions of planning and days or weeks of manipulation. This is premeditated. If this isn't first-degree murder, what is?

I'm aware that I lack lawyerly expertise and that there is probably some technicality through which, by virtue of not actually physically being anywhere near Megan, a conviction of murder would violate some centuries old definition. But let's be prepared to acknowledge that the world is a changing place.

There's still a dead body. There's still someone obviously to blame for it.

What about that isn't murder?

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