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Jurors deliberate 6 hours in Palin e-mail case

KNOXVILLE – A federal jury deliberated six hours without reaching a verdict in the case against a former University of Tennessee student charged with hacking into Sarah Palin’s e-mail.

The jury of eight men and six women started deliberating in Knoxville on Tuesday morning, then adjourned for the day around 4:45 p.m. in the case against 22-year-old David Kernell. They will return Wednesday.

He is charged with identity theft, mail fraud, aiding and abetting computer fraud and obstruction of justice. Kernell faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

He is accused of hacking into the then-Alaska governor’s e-mail while she was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008.

Palin and her daughter, Bristol, testified.

After Kernell chose not to testify, defense attorney Wade Davies said to the panel Monday in a closing argument that his client pulled a prank and guessed his way into Palin’s e-mail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle said to jurors Monday that Kernell set out with a plan to derail Palin’s campaign when she was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008.

Convictions on the identity theft and three other felony charges carry a maximum possible 50-year prison sentence.