Sarah Palin hacker: How much prison time should he get?

Sarah Palin has declined to comment on the prosecutors' latest request that the college student who hacked Palin's e-mail account should get 18 months in prison. A judge will sentence the hacker today.

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    Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaking on Sept. 15 in Tulsa, Okla.
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Prosecutors in a new court filing say the former University of Tennessee student convicted of hacking Sarah Palin's e-mail should spend 18 months in prison.

A federal judge in Knoxville will sentence David Kernell, who was arrested in 2008 for hacking the former Alaska governor's e-mail, today.

The former Alaska governor and her daughter Bristol testified in the April trial 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.

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Defense attorney Wade Davies has filed motions seeking probation at the sentencing, contending Kernell used publicly available information to guess his way into the e-mail in a prank. Prosecutors in a new court filing say the hacking was motivated by Palin's status as a governor and candidate for vice president.

According to reports earlier this month, Davies filed a motion that says probation is justified, partly because of the 22-year-old former University of Tennessee student's youth. Part of the motion for probation is filed under seal. Documents say only that it includes protected health information from treatment Kernell received as a juvenile.

A jury in April convicted Kernell on charges that include unauthorized access to a protected computer and destroying records to impede a federal investigation. The maximum possible penalty for destroying or concealing records to impede an investigation is 20 years, according to the government's sentencing memorandum. Applying sentencing guidelines to Kernell, however, the memorandum says the penalty ranges from 15 months to 21 months.

Davies said that instead of destroying evidence as prosecutors contend, Kernell helped preserve computer records and left an easy trail for them to follow.

Jurors at the trial acquitted Kernell of wire fraud and deadlocked on an identity theft charge.

"The public humiliation, trial, and felony conviction are enough to deter any future violations of the law," according to the defense motion.

QUIZ: How well do you know Sarah Palin?

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