And Carlin acted alone, the defense said.
Defense attorney Wayne Fricke described both men to an Anchorage jury as obsessed with his client. At the time of the 1996 murder, Linehan was a 23-year-old former exotic dancer. Leppink was so smitten, he stalked her, Fricke said.
Carlin had a second motive for murder, Fricke said: He wanted Leppink out of the way so he could have Linehan for himself.
Linehan is charged as an accomplice in Leppink's death. Carlin already has been convicted.
Fricke said jurors will find that Carlin's son, the state's key witness, has changed his story to police.
In his father's trial this past spring, John Carlin IV testified that he saw Linehan and his father cleaning a handgun in a bathroom sink shortly after the murder. But in interviews with police in 2005 and 2006, according to Fricke, he said only his father was cleaning the gun, and that Linehan wasn't even there.
In an hourlong delivery, Fricke offered jurors a portrait of his client at odds with the "stripper mom" image popular since she was indicted last year. She is, in fact, an Olympia PTA mother with a master's degree in public administration and married to a physician, he said.
Linehan is accused of conspiring with Carlin to kill Leppink, a 36-year-old commercial fisherman and her fiance at the time.
Fricke told the nearly all-female jury that his client had nothing to do with the slaying, was devastated when she learned Leppink had been killed and cooperated with police until they charged her.
"The prosecution is seeking a conviction on no more than a gut feeling and speculation," Fricke said. "There's no evidence to suggest she was in any part involved in the murder of Kent Leppink."
Linehan appeared stoic as she listened from the defense table, taking notes while prosecutor Pat Gullufsen painted her as a money-grubbing woman toying with men's emotions. But when the jury left on a break, she dabbed away tears with a tissue.
Linehan, who went by her maiden name, Hughes, in 1996, met Carlin and Leppink while working as a stripper at the Great Alaskan Bush Company. Gullufsen said she bought a $1 million life-insurance policy on Leppink and killed him for the money.
She paid a $2,600 premium on two policies, the one on Leppink and a $150,000 policy on herself, Gullufsen said. Leppink, who came from a well-to-do family but had no money of his own, only was worth something to Linehan if he was dead, Gullufsen said.
"If it wasn't for Mechele Linehan, Kent Leppink would still be alive today because she set the stage and at a least wrote the ending. All she needed was somebody to fill in the blanks, to do her dirty work, somebody to pull the trigger," Gullufsen told the jury.
She found that "able and willing" somebody in John Carlin, he said.
Fricke countered that the policies were to protect the assets of their shared commercial fishing business, M&L Enterprises, and that Linehan tried to cancel them both before Leppink died.
Gullufsen showed jurors e-mails that, he said, demonstrate a murder conspiracy. Linehan wrote the e-mails under the names "Latexenlace," "Vasolene" and "Akmewell."
The defense says the e-mails actually bolster their case. When read in context, they show how Carlin and Leppink were obsessed with Linehan; they show a confused woman caught up in a tangled love mess, the defense says.
At one point, Fricke told jurors, Leppink followed Linehan to a resort in Mississippi where he ended up serving her and an earlier boyfriend, Scott Hilke, coffee in bed.
After Linehan broke up with Hilke and Leppink wooed her, she agreed to marry him, Fricke said. But she quickly regretted the decision and wanted out of the relationship, he said.
Linehan was never engaged to more than one person at a time, and the relationship between Leppink and Linehan was never sexual, Fricke said.
Leppink was bisexual and embezzled large amounts of money from his family, Fricke said. He said he would back up the claims with evidence.
Leppink's sexuality came up on cross-examination of the state's first witness, Leppink's lawyer, Brian Brundin, now retired and living in Arizona.
Defense co-counsel Kevin Fitzgerald asked Brundin about hearing Linehan complain once to Leppink to the effect of, "Well, I could compete (for the affections of Carlin's son) if it was a girl."
When Brundin later asked Leppink about a homosexual affair, he did not respond, Brundin said.
Fricke said he also will show that Linehan cooperated with police in the investigation of Leppink's death, which is contrary to what police have said.