Sarah Palin email trial begins

Sarah Palin email trial begins

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David Kernell David Kernell

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The man accused of breaking into Sarah Palin's email account was portrayed by his defense lawyer as a prankster during Tuesday's opening arguments.

The prosecution said David Kernell wanted to derail Palin's chance at becoming vice president.

Defense attorney Wade Davies told the jury what Kernell did isn't a crime.

Davies said the 20-year-old, then a student at the University of Tennessee student, used a second hand computer from his uncle to gain access to Palin's personal email account.

Kernell was charged with four felonies in October 2008, including identity theft, wire fraud, computer fraud and obstruction of justice.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate at the time Kernell allegedly obtained the password to her Yahoo email account.

The prosecution told the jury Kernell "hoped to derail the campaign," saying he bragged on Facebook that he "hacked Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account."

Davies said Kernell simply guessed his way onto a famous person's account.

"It took less time than the prosecution's opening statement," Davies said.

Kernell's former college roommate took the stand, describing the night Kernell got into Palin's email account.

The roommate said Kernell woke him up and told him that he was resetting Palin's password. Later, he saw proof on the Internet including Palin's contacts and emails between friends.

The roommate said he didn't think Kernell was trying to harm Palin in any way, and never tried to hide what he was doing.

A jury of eight men and six women is hearing the case. They were seated Tuesday.

Two of the jurors are alternates. Judge Thomas Phillips said he won't tell the jurors who the alternates are until both sides have rested their case.

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