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MySpace confession sinks car-death conviction appeal

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A California appeals court has upheld a California woman's conviction for vehicular manslaughter by citing her MySpace page, in which she confessed to a penchant for drag racing.

Lorin Maureen Franco was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence after prosecutors accused her of reaching speeds of 100 MPH as she raced a fellow Mustang driver in June 2006. When she applied her brakes, opponent Henry Chavez, who was directly behind her, lost control of his vehicle.

He careened to the other side of the freeway and landed in a strawberry field, where he died. Franco didn't stop.

The defendant claimed she was traveling only 75 MPH when Chavez began tailgating her. She changed lanes, she said, but Chavez followed her. When she tapped her brakes, Chavez lost control of her vehicle. When she saw a brown plume of dust, she called her boyfriend, who told her to keep driving.

Judges for the California Court of Appeal for the Second District were unpersuaded by the account. They cited a message Franco left on her MySpace page one day before the accident.

It read: "If you find me on the freeway and you can keep up I have a really bad habit of racing random people."

The judges didn't elaborate, but it would appear the admission was grounds for them to decide the jury wasn't out of line in finding Franco's actions constituted vehicular manslaughter with negligence.

The court decision is by no means the first time an errant comment on a social networking site has come back to haunt its poster. But it sure is a potent reminder. The posting has since been removed from the account believed to belong to Franco. ®

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