|KNOXVILLE April 30, 2010 - A federal jury this afternoon convicted
Sarah Palin e-mail intruder David C. Kernell of felony destruction of records
to hamper a federal investigation and misdemeanor unlawfully obtaining
information from a protected computer.
The jury acquitted Kernell, 22, of felony wire fraud.U.S. District
Judge Thomas W. Phillips declared a mistrial on another charge, felony
identity theft, after the jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked.
The felony records destruction charge carries a maximum possible 20-year
prison sentence, which is virtually certain not to be applied in this case.
Federal sentencing guidelines that would apply in this case set a range
of 15 to 21 months and allow for probation.
The misdemeanor count carries a maximum term of one year, and probation
is also possible.Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle said federal prosecutors
would decide next week if they would retry the former University of Tennessee
economics major on that charge.
Phillips said he would set a sentencing date after prosecutors make
that decision.Kernell and his family left the federal courthouse without
comment. His attorney, Wade Davies, said they would issue a statement later.Kernell
remains free on bond.
Thomas van Flein, Sarah Palin's personal attorney, told The Associated
Press he has been involved in the case from the morning they learned of
the hacking in 2008."I think the jury took its job very seriously and weighed
the evidence closely and concluded that any effort to impact a national
election through illegal means is not a college prank. It is a crime,"
he said.Van Flein said Palin would issue her own statement about the verdict
on her Facebook page.The jury of six men and six women began its fourth
day of deliberations this morning by hearing a special added instruction
from Phillips.Called an Allen charge in legal parlance, it is commonly
called "a dynamite charge."Phillips told the jurors that as they resume
deliberating they should each reconsider their positions, but there was
no need to rush to a verdict.By Thursday, the panel had reached unanimous
agreement on three of the four counts against Kernell, whose father is
Democratic state Rep. Mike Kernell of Memphis. Those verdicts were not
announced until this afternoon.The four charges are all felonies with only
the protected computer count including a lesser misdemeanor offense. The
jurors chose the misdemeanor count of the charge. Kernell was facing a
total of 50 years in prison if convicted of all the felonies.On Thursday
the jurors sent a note to Phillips indicated some tension in the group."Some
of us feel not all jurors are following jury instructions," the note said
in part.The case began in September 2008. Palin, the governor of Alaska,
was the GOP vice presidential candidate, and Kernell was 20.That was when,
federal authorities say, he illegally gained access to her Yahoo! personal
e-mail account, through internet posting allowed others to snoop in it
also.Palin and her oldest daughter, Bristol, testified last week April