Mechele Linehan was released on bail late Tuesday night after spending two and a half years in prison on a murder conviction that has been thrown out.
A new trial has been set for September but likely will be delayed to give her defense team time to prepare.
Linehan’s bail conditions say she must stay in the Anchorage area and essentially be under house arrest until her trial. She is allowed outside for two four-hour time periods a week. She will not be allowed to return to her home in Olympia. And she must always be in sight or sound of one her court-appointed third-parties.
The Linehan family said a man sympathetic to her case donated the $25,000 bail bondsman’s fee – the cost of paying a bail bondsman to put up the $250,000 bail set by the court. The family said they were uncomfortable releasing the man’s name without his permission. He is from the Lower 48, said Linehan’s mother, Sandy McWilliams.
Separately, Anchorage strip club owner and businessman Terry Stahlman put up his Big Timber Motel as collateral for the $250,000 bail, which filled another requirement of the bail bondsman.
State Superior Court Judge Philip Volland last week rejected Stahlman’s proposal to go around a bail bondsman and put up only the property as bond. Stahlman’s proposal would have saved the Linehan’s the $25,000 bail bondsman’s fee.
Linehan and her family had trouble coming up with the cash for bail. Her husband, Colin, recently declared bankruptcy.
Linehan, 37, was convicted in 2007 of murdering Kent Leppink in 1996. Prosecutors say she manipulated one man who was in love with her, John Carlin, to kill Leppink, who was also infatuated with the young stripper. A jury convicted her and a state judge sentenced her to 99 years in prison, the same sentence Carlin got.
In February, the Alaska Court of Appeals concluded Volland made errors in Linehan’s trial and that the verdict was invalid. They said some evidence was prejudicial and swayed the emotions of the jury against Linehan. Their ruling essentially turns back the clock to when Linehan was indicted. She is back to being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Linehan was 23 when Leppink, a 34-year-old commercial fisherman, died. She says she doesn’t know who killed him. She and Leppink were staying at Carlin’s South Anchorage house while Linehan’s Wasilla home underwent renovations and Leppink waited for the summer fishing season to start. At one time during those months, Linehan agreed to marry Leppink but it was more of a business deal than for love, she said.
She says Leppink was gay and that he offered to pay her to be his wife, as a front to fool his Christian family in Michigan. He would live in her house and take care of her animals in the winter while she traveled, and she would live in the house and manage his fishing business in the summer. She backed out of the deal after a week, she said.
Prosecutors have painted Linehan as a femme fatale who was engaged to multiple men at once, playing them all for their money. She says that’s not true.