Computer trespasser loses in court

An Island County Superior Court judge denied a motion last week to vacate 10 felony counts of computer trespass in the first degree for the Whidbey General Hospital paramedic who hacked into his ex-girlfriend’s computer dating account and email.

A jury found Tracy Adams, 39, guilty of the felony counts in November. The 12-person group hung on two counts of residential burglary and an eleventh count of computer trespass, prompting Judge Alan Hancock to declare a mistrial on the deadlocked counts.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who tried the case, said last month that much of the testimony involved complicated computer evidence and analysis.

The esoteric minutiae included in the statute prompted defense attorney Charles Arndt to make a motion to “arrest judgment” last Thursday in Superior Court, thereby vacating the 10 felony counts.

“In essence, the 10 counts of computer trespass for which he was convicted required us to prove that he gained unauthorized access to a computer system or electronic database of another,” Banks said. “As I charged the crimes, the ‘other’ person was specified, Yvette Peña.”

Arndt contended that the database was actually owned by the Internet Service Provider, In Adams’ case, the “database” was Peña’s email account on Juno.

Banks challenged the defense attorney’s interpretation of the statue.

“The statute was enacted to protect the privacy rights in the electronic information, not the property rights of the legal owners of the hardware the information was stored on,” the prosecutor said.

Hancock agreed with Banks, denying the motions and allowing the jury verdicts to stand. Adams is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Jan. 4, at 1:30 p.m. He faces up to more than four years in prison for the crimes, based on the standard sentencing range.

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