Scott Hilke testified that he never hid his intimate relationship with Linehan from her friends Leppink and John Carlin. He had lived with Linehan. He went on vacations with her after he moved away from Alaska and, when he visited her in Anchorage, slept in her bedroom while Carlin and Leppink were in the house.
Leppink was murdered in 1996. Carlin has been convicted in his death and Linehan, who now lives in Olympia, is being tried as his accomplice. The prosecutor asked whether Hilke knew that Carlin and Leppink both wanted to marry his girlfriend.
"No," he replied.
Linehan was a 23-year-old former exotic dancer at the Great Alaskan Bush Company at the time of the murder. She had previously been engaged to Hilke. That engagement was called off. She was engaged to Leppink, a 36-year-old commercial fisherman, when he was killed.
She and Leppink were house guests of Carlin's when Leppink died.
Linehan is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say she manipulated Carlin into killing Leppink so she could inherit $1 million in life insurance. An insurance agent already has told jurors that Linehan was not the beneficiary and she tried to cancel the policy before Leppink's death.
Defense attorneys have painted Leppink as a sexual deviant who was obsessed with Linehan and made passes at Carlin's teenage son. Carlin acted alone when he killed Leppink, defense attorneys say.
Prosecutor Pat Gullufsen called the defense claims "character assassination."
"The main witness I have to prove it's not true is dead," Gullufsen argued to the judge in an effort to keep some of the defense material out of evidence.
Hilke, a valve salesman from California, met Linehan at the Bush Company. She danced and socialized with clients at the strip club under the name "Bobby Joe." Hilke said she would take home $1,000 to $3,000 a night in tips. Carlin and Leppink were customers. They would pay her $100 to $500 a night, Hilke said.
During his time on the witness stand, Hilke rarely looked across the courtroom at Linehan.
Hilke testified that he dated Linehan and got engaged to her on Thanksgiving, 1994. They spent a lot of time together, sometimes with Linehan's nephew or traveling to visit relatives.
Leppink showed up unexpectedly at one of their vacations in Louisiana. He must have known they were dating, Hilke said.
Within a year, Hilke and Linehan's relationship soured and Leppink stepped in. Linehan kept in touch with Hilke, though.
Hilke testified that Linehan told him disparaging things about Leppink, including that he stole her love letters, watched them have sex while they were living in Wasilla and Leppink was staying with them, and that he took $500 from Hilke's bank account.
She said she traveled under the alias Sue Wong to evade Leppink's stalking while she tried to pull away from him.
Gullufsen, the prosecutor, suggested these claims were lies by Linehan.
When Alaska State Troopers searched Leppink's Dodge Omni after the murder, they found Hilke's business card and a reservation with his signature from a vacation with Linehan in Mississippi.
Hilke said he always disapproved of the company Linehan kept back then.
"The circle of people that she knew, that she was connected with, was completely foreign to me. Totally unacceptable. I was unable to understand the situation," he said during questioning by Gullufsen.
Defense attorney Wayne Fricke focused in on the man Linehan is accused of killing:
"T.T. (Leppink), I think you described you thought he was kind of weird?" Fricke asked.
"He was different," Hilke said.
"And the other people up there (in Anchorage) were "
"To be polite, right?"
"You didn't like them?"
"And you didn't trust them?"
When Hilke learned that Leppink was dead he became concerned for Linehan's safety, he told the jury. When he spoke to her on the phone, she was upset. He advised her to leave Alaska.
Hilke's relationship with Linehan continued until a few years ago.
According to previous testimony, he had an affair with her while her Army husband was serving in Iraq.