Published February 23, 2010
Linehan has ally in Web siteJeremy Pawloski
Mechele Linehan, the Olympia housewife sentenced earlier this year to 99 years in prison for the 1996 Alaska murder of fisherman Kent Leppink, has a new Web site devoted to overturning her conviction.The Web site, which states that Linehan was convicted of "conspiring to murder Kent Leppink," is at freemechele.blogspot.com. Linehan and co-defendant John Carlin were each convicted of first-degree murder in connection with Leppink's death.According to the site, it "is run by friends and family of Mechele Linehan," and is devoted to "positive sharing on the journey to true justice."The site has a link to an online store selling various products, including T-shirts, mugs, stickers, pins and mousepads emblazoned with the words "Free Me! Mechele Linehan is innocent." Prices vary. A tank top was selling for $20.99; $30.99 for a sweatshirt.Linehan, 35 at the time of her conviction, worked as an exotic dancer when she lived in Alaska in the mid-1990s. Until she was charged with Leppink's shooting death in October 2006, Linehan lived in Olympia with her husband, Colin, a former civilian doctor at Madigan Army Medical Center, and their school-age daughter.According to Alaska authorities, Linehan and Carlin planned Leppink's murder to collect on Leppink's $1 million life insurance policy, which they mistakenly thought named Linehan as the beneficiary. Leppink changed his policy a week before his death to make his father the beneficiary instead of Linehan, court documents state.Carlin was convicted of firing the gun that killed Leppink, but Alaska Superior Court Judge Philip Volland said during the sentencing hearing that he makes no distinction between Carlin and Linehan."In my mind I can find no principled distinction between the puppet who pulls the trigger and the puppeteer who pulls the strings," Volland said at sentencing. "And in my judgment, Ms. Linehan was the puppeteer who pulled the strings." Linehan is appealing her verdict.Colin Linehan could not be reached for comment Monday.The Anchorage Daily News contributed to this story.Jeremy Pawloski covers public safety for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.