David Kernell, best known for hacking into Sarah Palin's personal Yahoo account during the 2008 presidential campaign, has died from complications of multiple sclerosis. After being sentenced to a year in prison he got his life back on track, by most accounts.
Kernell, 30, was a student at the University of Tennessee 10 years ago when he successfully guessed Palin's security answers, which allowed him to change the password and get access to the Yahoo account, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported while confirming his death last week in California through family members.
Kernell then posted family photos and some emails of Palin, who at the time was the Republican vice presidential nominee running with U.S. Sen. John McCain against Democrat Barack Obama.
Kernell, son of former Tennessee Democratic State Rep. Mike Kernell, was eventually sentenced in 2010 to one year in federal prison after being convicted of misdemeanor computer intrusion and a felony count of obstruction of justice, Wired magazine reported.
"David did not let this incident define him," the family said in a statement, according to the Commercial Appeal. "He returned to UT Knoxville to complete his economics degree and further refined his programming skills by helping his local community.”
"He first volunteered his expertise to Tennessee Voices for Children, a child advocacy non-profit group. Later, he moved to California and worked to develop facial recognition software that could identify children at risk of abuse."
The family said Kernell was diagnosed with MS in 2014 and participated in clinical research trials at the Cedars-Sinai Neurosciences Research Center in Los Angeles to help develop cures and treatments for other victims of MS.
Allan Bogle, host of the program "Into the Deep" on radio station WEVL-FM, said he knew Kernell through the Memphis Chess Club and that he grew up to be a "very smart guy," per the Commercial Appeal.
"For a brief period of time he was the most famous chess player in the country," Bogle said.
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