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VOL. 125 | NO. 81 | Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Defendant in Palin Hacking Case Does Not Testify

BILL POOVEY | Associated Press Writer

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KNOXVILLE (AP) — A former University of Tennessee student charged with hacking Sarah Palin's e-mail chose to not take the witness stand in his defense, his lawyers said Monday before resting their case.

The attorney for 22-year-old David Kernell called just one witness, an FBI agent who testified that Kernell was deeply upset by the investigation.

Prosecutors began their closing arguments on the first day of the trial's second week.

Defense attorney Wade Davies has said the e-mail intrusion was a prank by a college student who had no criminal intent.

Prosecutors contend Kernell was trying to derail Palin's campaign when he accessed her personal e-mail account in September 2008 while she was the Republican candidate for vice president.

Davies declined to say Monday why Kernell decided not testify after a lineup of government witnesses over four days, including Palin and her daughter. They talked about how the hacking intruded on and disrupted their own personal lives and invaded the privacy of other family members and close friends.

Convictions on the identity theft and three other felony charges carry a maximum possible penalty of 50 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips denied defense motions to have instructions to the eight men and six women jurors include "lesser-included" offenses, except on one of the charges. If jurors decide to find him guilty of a misdemeanor instead, that would reduce the maximum possible penalty to a year in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Krotoski said the evidence shows Kernell committed a felony, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer.

Kernell is accused of invading the then-Alaska governor's Yahoo! e-mail account, resetting the password, reading the contents, displaying the password online in an intrusion that exposed personal telephones numbers and e-mails.

Davies attempted unsuccessfully to subpoena a college student in Utah who the defense attorney said also got into Palin's e-mail account. The judge quashed the subpoena, ruling it was unlikely that such testimony would affect Kernell's case.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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