A top legal expert has said that the strategy allegedly used by the defense in leaking details about Phoebe Prince’s previous suicide attempt was sick.
“Make no mistake: This is all tied to some sick defense strategy that’s beyond despicable,” said Wendy Murphy, a legal expert at the New England School of Law.
"There is not a thing this child could have done to deserve what happened to her. You can never be responsible for your own death when somebody tortures you," she said.
She added that newly emerged details about Phoebe Prince’s past, including her self-mutilation and a previous suicide attempt, are “irrelevant” to whether the 15-year-old Irish student in South Hadley, Massachusetts, was bullied or not in the days leading up to her suicide last January.
Murphy commented that “there is only guilty or not guilty . . . and the jury doesn’t have to find that what these kids did was the only cause of Phoebe’s death; it only has to find that it was a cause.”
News of the previous suicide attempt and some evidence of self mutilation was first posted online in Slate Magazine, which said that: “she [Phoebe Prince] was deeply troubled long before she ever met the six defendants. And her own behavior made other students understandably upset.”
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel said the story “suggests that Phoebe’s internal struggles alone caused her death, and that it is unfair to hold these defendants accountable for their behavior." In other words, the bullies are likely to get off.
New tougher anti-bullying legislation was introduced in the State of Massachusetts following the Prince tragedy, which will require school authorities to report the more serious cases of bullying to law authorities who may bring criminal prosecutions against the bullying parties.
Phoebe’s family have already moved to express their displeasure over the article in the online magazine.
The article, written by journalist Emily Bazelon, states that the 15-year-old had a disturbed past and had been confronting psychological issues that included a previous suicide attempt.
The article raises serious doubts about whether the six students of Phoebe Prince’s high school deserve to be prosecuted in the first place.