The mother of a Missouri girl who committed suicide after being targeted by an Internet hoax testified Thursday that she was unaware that her daughter had posed as an 18-year-old while allegedly trying to chat online with boys.
Tina Meier has said she had monitored 95 percent of the online activity of her 13-year-old daughter, Megan Meier.
Under questioning by defense attorney Dean Steward, Meier also said she did not recall a report from a psychologist that her daughter was portraying herself with sexual innuendo during online activities.
"Don't you remember her portraying herself as an 18-year-old?" Steward asked.
"No I don't," Meier said.
The testimony came during the trial of Lori Drew, who is accused of conspiring with her then-13-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Drew's then-18-year-old assistant, Ashley Grills, to dream up a fictitious identity on MySpace to find out what Megan was saying about Sarah.
Megan, who was being treated for depression and attention deficit disorder, committed suicide in 2006 after receiving cruel messages from a fictitious boy who prosecutors say was created as part of the hoax.
Drew has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization. Each count carries a potential sentence of five years in prison.
Case could set precedent
It's believed to be the nation's first cyber-bullying trial and its results could set a legal precedent for dealing with the issue of online harassment.
Steward told jurors Drew did not violate the Computer Use and Fraud Act — used in the past to address computer hacking — and reminded them that she was not facing charges dealing with the suicide.
Under cross-examination, Tina Meier also said she had reprimanded her daughter after discovering in the summer of 2006 that Megan and Sarah had together created a false identity for a fictional girl named Kelly on MySpace. Meier said her daughter was "boy crazy."
In other testimony, Christina Chu, a hair stylist, testified that she was upset when Lori Drew told her she had helped set up a fake MySpace account to get back at an unnamed girl.
Chu said Drew showed no response when Chu told her that was wrong.
Drew returned to the hair salon on the day of Megan's wake, and employees asked why she and her family had decided to attend.
"'It's not like I pulled the trigger,'" Chu quoted Drew as saying.
Grills was expected testify later in the day with immunity from prosecution.
Early testimony on suicide
While the trial is expected to center on the social networking site's terms of service, most of the early testimony has dealt with Megan's suicide.
A composed Tina Meier told jurors Wednesday that her daughter was taking medication for attention deficit disorder and depression and that she struggled with low self-esteem.
"I was nervous she would do something," said Meier, adding that Megan previously tried committing suicide.
Meier said Megan was bullied at the Missouri school she attended with Sarah. Megan transferred to a private school months before she killed herself.