2 indicted in 2008 prison slaying

Carlin-Linehan case: Victim claimed innocence

January 1, 2011 

Two men have been charged in connection with the 2008 prison slaying of John Carlin III, who was serving a 99-year prison term after he and Mechele Linehan of Olympia were convicted in a 1996 slaying.

William N. Wassillie, 27, and Tyler Warren Heavyrunner, 29, have been charged, according to an indictment released Thursday evening. Wassillie is charged with second-degree murder, burglary and tampering with evidence. Heavyrunner is charged with criminally negligent homicide, burglary and tampering with evidence.

The indictment contains few specifics about the slaying or the two men, saying only that the Carlin slaying occurred Oct. 27, 2008.

Linehan, who moved to Olympia after the 1996 slaying, won a reversal of her conviction from an appeals court. She is awaiting retrial. Carlin, like Linehan, had steadfastly maintained his innocence and had an appeal of his conviction pending when he was killed.

Carlin died at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, Alaska’s largest prison. He was attacked and died from some sort of blunt-force trauma, authorities said. He was 51.

Carlin had arrived at the prison just months before to begin his sentence after being convicted in the murder of Kent Leppink, a commercial fisherman who was 36 when he was killed. Carlin’s appeal of his verdict was pending when he died.

Weeks before the fatal beating, Carlin wrote to a reporter in mid-October 2008 that he was beaten after a rerun of the CBS show “48 Hours” in which he was featured.

“... some people here didn’t like the way I looked, so I got a prison makeover of sorts,” he wrote.

Leppink was a guest in Carlin’s South Anchorage home at the time of his death. According to trial testimony, both men wanted another houseguest, Linehan, then a 23-year-old stripper, to be their girlfriend.

Prosecutors say Linehan and Carlin conspired to kill Leppink, believing incorrectly that she would inherit a $1 million life-insurance payout.

Carlin’s son, John Carlin IV, whose testimony about his father washing a handgun after Leppink died was key evidence in the convictions, said in a written statement after Carlin’s slaying: “Grief, sorrow, guilt and rage flow through my body in an attempt to accept this injustice. I’m still in so much shock that I can’t fully articulate all the hurt that I’m feeling over the loss of this good man.”

Carlin IV has said he believes his father was innocent and that he will continue to work to clear his name.

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