A former University of Tennessee student charged with hacking Sarah Palin's e-mail chose to not testify at his trial, while his lawyer said Monday that the defendant guessed his way into the e-mail during a prank.
Jurors were scheduled to begin deliberating Tuesday on the four felony charges against David Kernell, including identity theft. Both sides gave closing arguments Monday, capping several days of testimony by witnesses including Palin and her daughter, Bristol.
"David Kernell at the age of 20 made some bad choices," defense attorney Wade Davies said Monday, also describing Kernell's actions as "some stupid decisions."
Convictions on all counts carry a combined maximum sentence of as many as 50 years in prison.
Davies told the jury of eight men and six women — some who took notes in the fifth day of the trial — that "not every choice we make at age 20 defines who we are." He said there was no criminal intent when Kernell intruded on Palin's e-mail.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle told jurors that Kernell "set out to do something malicious, from the beginning."
Weddle said evidence from Kernell's laptop computer and records of online services show Kernell had a plan to derail Palin's campaign when she was the Republican vice presidential candidate.
"There's nothing childish about this," Weddle said.
Davies declined to say Monday why Kernell decided not to testify after a lineup of government witnesses over four days.
The Palins talked about how the hacking intruded on and disrupted their own personal lives and invaded the privacy of other family members and close friends.
Kernell is accused of invading the then-Alaska governor's Yahoo! e-mail account, resetting the password, reading the contents and displaying the password online as be bragged about it in chats. The intrusion exposed personal telephones numbers and e-mail addresses and led to other Internet users going into the e-mail account.
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