Jurors saw it differently when they convicted Linehan, 35, of Olympia of first-degree murder in October. On Wednesday, a judge in Alaska, where she was tried, gave her the maximum sentence despite pleas of leniency from Linehan and her family and friends.
Neighbors near the Bigelow Avenue Northeast home of Linehan and her husband, Colin, say theres no way the friendly, honest woman they knew could be capable of conspiring to murder.
Im completely baffled, said Kevin Shamel, who moved in across the street from the Linehans two years ago. I dont understand how it could turn out the way it did.
Linehan and her daughter introduced themselves to Shamel and his wife, Terri Plewa, when they brought over a plate of cookies, Shamel said. The families would meet for dinners and movies.
Shamel said he and his wife have exchanged many letters with Linehan while she has been in prison. His wife went to Alaska for part of Linehans trial.
Shamel said Linehan remains optimistic that she will be released one day soon.
Shes positive to the point of naivete, he said. Shes innocent. She knows shes innocent. And she feels she will be exonerated, certainly.
Neighbor Debby Saunders said she often talked to Linehan working in her yard or walking her dog. She was struck by her neighbors gentle and kind nature, she said.
I still think shes innocent, Saunders said. So does everybody else that knew her.
Linehan was convicted of conspiring with a boyfriend to kill a man in 1996 for a $1 million life- insurance payout. The victim, Kent Leppink, had removed Linehan as the beneficiary days before his death. Prosecutors have portrayed Linehan as manipulative and deceitful.
Leppink was found dead near Hope, Alaska, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, on May 2, 1996. The fisherman was shot with .44-caliber slugs in the back, abdomen and cheek.
Last year, an Anchorage jury found co-defendant John Carlin III, 50, guilty of first-degree murder in connection with Leppinks shooting death.
Linehan is a former stripper in Alaska who started a new life upon moving to Olympia, marrying a doctor and raising a daughter.
She plans to appeal her conviction. If unsuccessful, she wont be eligible for parole until she is 68.