Palin says she learned of email breach from news reports

Palin says she learned of email breach from news reports

Updated:
Sarah Palin spoke to the media outside the courtroom after her testimony. Sarah Palin spoke to the media outside the courtroom after her testimony.

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The defense began making its case Friday in the trial of a former UT student accused of breaking into Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account.

Earlier, Palin testified she wasn't aware her account had been breached until she saw news reports about it.

David Kernell is accused of gaining access to the email account by providing Palin's birth date and zip code to Yahoo's password retrieval system. Kernell correctly answered questions for the password retrieval.

Kernell is charged with four felonies, including identity theft, wire fraud, computer fraud and obstruction of justice.

If convicted, the maximum possible penalty is 50 years in prison.

Palin's testimony and remarks after

The former governor of Alaska and Republican vice presidential nominee testified Friday morning was campaigning in Michigan in September 2008 when she saw the news about her email account.

She said she a few minutes later her campaign manager and a Secret Service agent confirmed the information.

The prosecution says Kernell gained access to Palin's email by correctly answering a password retrieval question about where Palin met her husband, Todd.

The defense asked Palin Friday if it was a secret that she met her husband in high school at Wasilla, Alaska. She said it was "no secret" to her, getting laughs in response.

Palin testified that the breach was disruptive to her personal life and her campaign, and she felt that was the motivation for Kernell's actions.

She also said it was shocking and invasive seeing her personal pictures and contacts posted on the Internet, and she spent days correcting the media about assumptions made after this happened.

Palin said some of the rumors included that she was having an affair and that her youngest son, Trig, wasn't hers.

Palin said she used the "gov.palin" Yahoo account and a red Blackberry almost exclusively to communicate with her family in Alaska while she was on the campaign trail.

Palin said the Secret Service took her children's cell phones and she had to shut down her Yahoo account.

As she left the courthouse, Palin was asked if she thought that sentence would be appropriate. She said it's up the jury. She also said, "I think there needs to be consequences for poor behavior."

Palin's husband was in court with her Friday, but he didn't testify.

FBI agent testifies

An undercover FBI agent took the stand before Palin for the second day in a row.

The agent read from postings where Kernell bragged on Internet chat sites after getting into Palin's account saying what he made public was just the tip of the iceberg.

The agent also said Kernell claimed to have pictures of the "prego one," Palin's daughter, Bristol, but didn't think he should post them.

Someone talking to Kernell online told him to "post this s@#$" and at least give someone else her (Palin's) password "and let them "ruin her life," the agent testified. Three minutes later, the password was posted.

The defense asked the agent if he had direct evidence from Kernell's confiscated laptop that proved it was used to break into Palin's email. He said he did not because files were deleted.

Defense begins case

The defense began its case Friday afternoon after the judge denied a motion to acquit Kernell of all charges.

Its first witness worked for the FBI in 2008, and said he spoke to Kernell, who was crying and distraught, by phone.

At the start of the trial, Kernell's lawyer told the jury the case is about nothing more than an overblown prank and his client had no criminal intent.

Kernell is the son of Tennessee state Rep. Mike Kernell, a Memphis Democrat.

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