October 8, 2008— -- The son of a Tennessee state legislator pled not guilty to hacking into Sarah Palin's Yahoo! email account Wednesday .
David C. Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn. turned himself in to federal authorities this morning, after a grand jury indicted him on one count relating to "accessing without authorization" the GOP vice presidential hopeful's email. Kernell is the son of Tennessee State Rep. Mike Kernell.
The indictment, handed down Oct. 7 but unsealed Wednesday, alleges Kernell broke into Palin's Yahoo! account by answering several security questions and resetting her password. Kernell then read Palin's emails, and posted to the internet the new password as well as screenshots of her inbox and some emails, according to the indictment.
Palin's use of Yahoo! email to conduct state business has drawn criticism from security experts and open government advocates alike. Their concerns were underscored by the September hacking incident for which Kernell has now been indicted.
Kernell was publicly identified as a suspect shortly after the hacking became news. FBI agents visited his apartment just days after the incident with subpoenas and search warrants to interview Kernell's roommates and to search and photograph his living quarters.
Kernell was released on his on recognizance following his arraignment today. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three year term of supervised release, according to the release. The case is set to go to trial Dec. 16, said Kernell's lawyer, Wade V. Davies. "We look forward to its ultimate resolution in court."
This story has been updated.