Man charged with hacking wife's e-mail

2010-12-30 19:29
Detroit - A Michigan prosecutor defended her decision on Wednesday to file charges against a man accused of hacking into his estranged wife's e-mail after suspecting she was having an affair, saying the case is about invasion of privacy.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said charging Leon Walker with felony computer misuse was appropriate because he broke state law. Walker, an information technology worker from suburban Detroit, has said he accessed the account only because he suspected infidelity, and critics say Cooper has better things to do than get involved in marital strife.

"I could care less who is messing with whom. This case is about hacking," Cooper said. "Somebody has violated a statute. My job is to enforce the statute. The hacking laws are there for a reason. You have to have... privacy."

Judges have twice denied requests to dismiss the charges, she added.

Walker, 33, and his attorney didn't return phone messages from the AP on Wednesday. Walker is fighting the charge, which carries up to five years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin on February 11.

Password changed


Walker's now ex-wife, Clara, realised her computer had been hacked when personal e-mails showed up in child custody pleadings involving her first husband. She filed a complaint with police in March, Cooper said.

The Walkers, who lived in Rochester Hills, were going through a contentious divorce at the time. They have a 3-year-old daughter. Leon Walker, her third husband, has said he suspected his wife was having an affair with her second husband.

Leon Walker has said he purchased the laptop, but Clara Walker claimed that she changed her password six times and he didn't have permission to use it. She told investigators he downloaded e-mails concerning her first husband about a custody battle.

"My e-mail password was a secret and not kept around the house for anybody to find," Clara Walker wrote in an e-mail on Wednesday. "When I learned that he was sneaking around and invading my privacy, I felt violated. Anybody in my position would go to the police."

"Obviously he was fishing in my e-mails for something to use against me in court," she added.

Support for Leon Walker has been popping up online in blogs and among some legal professionals, mostly questioning why Cooper is pursuing the case. A paralegal in Tennessee said he plans to raise money to help Walker's legal defence.

Florida lawyer David Allen worked on a similar divorce proceeding that involved his client's wife installing spyware on her husband's computer. His client declined to press charges, though a judge ruled that communications captured by the spyware was inadmissible.

"A lot of these prosecutors, they just want publicity (but) you are supposed to enforce the law," Allen said.

Cooper also came under fire in September when she charged a woman with murdering her husband, then dropped charges and admitted her error when a coroner ruled the death accidental. The wife had been jailed at the time of her husband's funeral and wasn't allowed to attend.
- AP
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