Yesterday, at just before 5 p.m. Pacific time, the jury deciding Lori Drew's fate emerged to announce that it had reached a decision on 3 of the 4 counts against the Missouri mom, but were split on the fourth. According to the LA Times, Drew "is charged with three counts of violating federal computer statutes and one count of conspiracy," for creating the fake MySpace account she allegedly used to help torment her daughter's friend, 13-year-old Megan Meier. Wired notes that earlier in the day, the jury asked the judge "to clarify an earlier instruction related to the issue of a 'tortious' act — an act that causes malicious or negligent harm to, in this case, Megan Meier, which is a requirement for finding Drew guilty on the computer fraud charges."Though the jurors did not indicate which charge they're hung up on, Wired also makes the point that three of the charges are nearly identical, so it's likely that the conspiracy charge is the one they're struggling with. In addition, "Jurors can find Drew guilty of conspiracy if they conclude that she schemed with others in violating MySpace's terms, without necessarily committing a computer crime herself." However, some detractors of Federal prosecutor Thomas O'Brien still believe that Lori Drew should not have been charged in the first place. Reason Magazine's Jacob Sullum says:
The charges did not fit the facts of the case…[O'Brien] never presented any evidence that Drew saw MySpace's Terms Of Service, let alone agreed to them. Furthermore, O'Brien's interpretation of the law would make criminals of us all. Shortly after the indictment, Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor who later volunteered as a pro bono attorney for Drew, noted, "Since everyone who uses computers violates dozens of different TOS every day, the theory would make everyone who uses computers a felon."
The jury will reconvene at 9 a.m. to try to hash out that final charge and attempt to reach a unanimous verdict. Lori Drew Jury Nears Verdict on Three Charges, Struggles With Fourth [Wired] MySpace Jury Reaches Verdicts On Some Counts [L.A. Times] Thomas O'Brien's MySpace Hoax [Reason] Earlier: MySpace Trial, Day 1: Megan Meier's Last Words MySpace Trial, Day 2: Lori Drew Says, "It's Not Like I Pulled The Trigger" MySpace Trial, Day 3: Lori Drew's Daughter Speaks MySpace Trial, Day 4: Sarah Drew Says Megan "Was My Best Friend"