Though mental health experts caution that there is rarely ever one lone reason for suicide, information is emerging about how legal troubles were mounting for Internet activist Aaron Swartz in the weeks before his suicide on Friday. The Wall Street Journal's Spencer E. Ante, Anjali Athavaley, and Joe Palazzolo report this morning that lawyers defending him on 13 felony counts, including wire and computer fraud for breaking into and downloading MIT's academic journal database JSTOR, had failed to reach a plea bargain deal with Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann ahead of the April trial date. The prosecution demanded that Swartz plead guilty on every count and would insist on a sentence that included prison time, The Journal reports.
Though The Journal cautions "the reasons why someone might take as drastic a step as killing himself are complex and rarely boil down to a simple trigger," Swartz's family, friends, and supporters on the Internet have blamed the criminal justice system for pushing Swartz's case too far. Anonymous has also made a statement of their own, hacking MIT's website and posting the following: "Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government’s prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for." (The message has since been removed. TechCrunch has the full note.)