Press Release

State Will Re-Try Mechele Linehan for First-Degree Murder

February 22, 2010

Anchorage, Alaska – The State of Alaska will put Mechele Linehan on trial again for first-degree murder in the 1996 death of her fiancé, Kent Leppink.

Attorney General Dan Sullivan announced the decision as the case returned to Superior Court, following the Feb. 5 ruling by the Alaska Court of Appeals that reversed Linehan's conviction from October 2007.

Linehan remains under indictment in the murder of Leppink, who was shot to death in Hope. John Carlin was convicted as the shooter. Both Linehan and Carlin received 99-year prison sentences after separate trials. Carlin then was murdered in prison.

"While the appeals court has reversed Linehan's conviction on the basis of two particular pieces of evidence being admitted during her trial, we are confident that there is sufficient evidence to support a second conviction," said Deputy Attorney General Rick Svobodny, head of the Criminal Division in the Department of Law.

The appeals court ruled that the trial judge erred in allowing the state to present the following evidence:

  • Leppink's letter to his parents stating if something "fishy" happened to him that Linehan and certain others were most likely responsible; and
  • Linehan's statement to a friend saying she aspired to be like the protagonist of the movie "The Last Seduction": a woman who manipulated her boyfriend into killing her husband for her financial gain.

The state will not seek Alaska Supreme Court review of the court of appeals' ruling. 

"First, the narrow issues resolved by the court of appeals rest on facts unique to this case and will not likely implicate future cases," Svobodny said.  "Second, while the state disagrees with the court of appeals' view of the facts in this case, its resolution of the issues raised in the appeal was not so far beyond the bounds of reason as to warrant discretionary review by a higher appellate court. For these reasons, the state will not be filing a petition asking the Alaska Supreme Court to reverse the court of appeals' decision."

For more information, contact Chief Assistant Attorney General Susan McLean, (907)465-3428.

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