KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A former University of Tennessee student who hacked into Sarah Palin’s e-mail during the 2008 presidential campaign was sentenced yesterday to a year and a day, with the judge recommending a halfway house instead of prison.
US District Judge Thomas W. Phillips also said David Kernell, 22, should get mental-health treatment, based on defense comments yesterday that he has had conditions including depression since he was 11.
Kernell hugged family members and friends after hearing the sentence. He declined comment as they left the courthouse with his attorney.
He was an economics major when he deduced the answers to security questions and read e-mail in Palin’s private account.
The former Alaska governor and her daughter Bristol testified at the trial in late April that the hacking, followed by Kernell’s online bragging and providing the password and Palin family telephone numbers to others, caused them emotional hardship. Palin previously declined comment about Kernell’s sentence and said it should be up to the judge.
Murkowski said she feels “pretty good about the direction’’ the vote count is headed and expressed confidence that she’ll pull off an improbable write-in victory over Republican nominee Joe Miller.
As of late last night, the state had recorded 98,565 total write-in votes, and 87,517 votes for Miller, with thousands of absentee ballots still outstanding. Of the write-in ballots cast, workers have so far counted 69,249.
The results of those ballots show Murkowski undisputedly has been getting about 90 percent of the write-in vote. Another 7.6 percent have been apparent votes for Murkowski that have been challenged, generally by observers for Miller for things like minor misspellings or penmanship issues.
The hand count is scheduled to go through the weekend and run well into next week to determine if Murkowski got enough write-in votes to win. Murkowski is seeking to become the first US Senate candidate to win a write-in campaign since 1954.
Linking a recent spate of gay teens’ suicides with politicians who support the “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy, Cindy McCain directly lays blame for the deaths with lawmakers and clergy who oppose gay rights. In a celebrity-filled antibullying video, she said, “government treats the [gay] community like second-class citizens’’ and does not give young people hope.
The video was posted online by NOH8, a gay-rights group that began in opposition to Proposition 8. California voters in 2008 passed that ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage. Cindy McCain and daughter Meghan McCain appeared in ads for that cause and have previously split with the Arizona lawmaker on gay marriage.
The group’s latest video features rockers Slash and Gene Simmons and reality-TV stars Denise Richards and Drew Pinsky. The celebrities tick through opportunities denied gays, such as donating blood or marrying. Cindy McCain, mother of sons in uniform, then adds: “They can’t serve our country openly.’’