Jurors hint at partial verdict in MySpace hoax

LOS ANGELES - Jurors deliberating in the MySpace Internet harassment trial of a Missouri mother on Tuesday suggested in a note to the judge that they reached verdicts on three of the four counts.

The note sent late on the first day of deliberations asked, "Can we be hung on one count but unanimous on the others?"

Judge George Wu told the jurors to return Wednesday and resume deliberations.

"I'm going to excuse for today and have you deliberate some more," Wu told the panel of six men and six women. "If the jury is still at an impasse (tomorrow), hand me a note."

Wu did not ask jurors which count was at issue, nor did he ask what the vote count was.Lori Drew, 49, is accused of conspiracy and accessing computers without authorization for her alleged role in a scheme to create a phony profile of a teenage boy on the MySpace social networking Web site to harass 13-year-old neighbor Megan Meier.

Drew could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison if convicted of all four counts.Megan, who was being treated for depression, hanged herself in 2006 after receiving a message that the world would be better off without her.

Drew, whose daughter was once a friend of Megan, pleaded not guilty to the charges.Earlier Tuesday, jurors asked the judge to clarify an instruction about the definition of infliction of emotional distress and the elements needed to prove it.

Prosecutors allege Drew, with the help of her daughter, Sarah, and a business assistant, accessed a computer without authorization to taunt Megan.

Prosecutors charged Drew under the Computer Use and Fraud Act, which in the past has been used in hacking and trademark theft cases.

Wu is considering a defense motion to have the case dismissed because attorney Dean Steward argued that prosecutors hadn't proven Drew read MySpace's service terms.

The terms prohibit the use of phony names and harassment of other MySpace members.

The case is being prosecuted in Los Angeles because MySpace computer servers are based in the area.