ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska will retry a former Olympia resident whose conviction for murdering her former fiance was overturned earlier this month, state Attorney General Dan Sullivan said Monday.
Mechele Linehan was convicted in 2007 of killing Kent Leppink. Prosecutors have claimed she was inspired by watching the 1994 movie “The Last Seduction,” in which a femme fatale coaxes her lover into killing her husband for money.
The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 5 that the trial judge wrongly allowed that connection to be made. The court also said the judge erred in allowing prosecutors to introduce a letter written by Linehan’s former fiance shortly before he was fatally shot on an isolated Alaska trail in 1996.
Leppink’s letter to his parents asserted that Linehan would probably be responsible if he died suspiciously. He urged them to be sure “to take Mechele DOWN. Make sure she is prosecuted.”
“While the appeals court has reversed Linehan’s conviction on the basis of two particular pieces of evidence being admitted during her trial, we are confident that there is sufficient evidence to support a second conviction,” Deputy Attorney General Rick Svobodny, head of the Criminal Division in the Department of Law, said in a statement Monday.
The state said it would take this course rather than appeal the conviction being overturned.
Linehan’s attorney, Jeff Feldman, said he appreciated that the state determined to there was no reason to seek further review of the appellate court’s decision.
“And Ms. Linehan looks forward to the new trial and an opportunity to have the evidence fairly reviewed,” he said.
Linehan was arrested in 2006. By that time, she had married a doctor, earned college degrees and moved to Olympia. She was convicted in October 2007 of plotting with another man who hoped to marry her, John Carlin III, to kill Leppink in hopes of receiving $1 million in life insurance money.
The 37-year-old Linehan has been serving a 99-year sentence. Carlin was convicted separately in Leppink’s death and was later killed in prison.
Carlin’s son, John Carlin IV, is suing the Alaska Department of Corrections over his father’s brutal death in prison.
Carlin IV alleges in a lawsuit filed in Anchorage Superior Court that prison officials failed to protect his father. He is seeking at least $500,000 in damages.