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By Megan Holland | Anchorage Daily News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – When Dr. Colin Linehan's turn came to say something about his wife in an Anchorage courtroom Friday, he turned his back to the judge, faced the audience in the packed spectator section, and spoke directly to the parents of the man Mechele Linehan was convicted of murdering.
"I don't know the hole in your heart
what it's like to lose a child. I can't imagine," he said with the passion of a man fighting for his wife's freedom. He said, as he has said before, that his wife is not guilty.
"I just want to say my prayers are with you," he told the now elderly couple. He paused. "OK?"
But Betsy and Kenneth Leppink were unlikely to be moved by his sympathy. Both had already told Superior Court Judge Philip Volland that as far as they are concerned, Mechele Linehan was and is "evil."
It was one emotional moment of many during the sentencing hearing for Linehan, convicted last October of conspiring with a boyfriend to kill Kent Leppink in 1996 for a $1 million life insurance payout.
The hearing went all day Friday and is scheduled to resume Wednesday when Volland will listen to the lawyers' recommendations and arguments, then decide how long Linehan should serve in prison.
Prosecutor Pat Gullufsen is asking for 99 years, the maximum for first-degree murder. Linehan's lawyer, her family and friends are pleading for mercy in what they say is a wrongful conviction, asking for five years at most.
In five hours of testimony, Washington, D.C., forensic psychiatrist Mark Mills said that after an extensive evaluation, Linehan "is unlikely to be someone who schemed or planned the murder of anybody."
Mills described the 35-year-old former stripper, who later lived in Olympia as a wife, mother and businesswoman, as being highly intelligent and extremely social. But she also is naive and sometimes in denial about circumstances around her, he said.
She does not like to be told what to do, but she is not a sociopath or psychopath, he said.
If she did commit the crime
and he didn't suggest she did