Linehan in jail after bail review

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Olympia woman accused of slaying her fiance near Hope 10 years ago must remain in custody in Alaska to face a murder charge, at least for now, a judge said Monday.

Mechele Linehan, 33, was not released from jail after a bail review in a court appearance in Anchorage.

Linehan's attorneys said her husband, a doctor, and a family friend would watch over her if she were released and allowed to return to Washington until her trial, now scheduled for January. But Superior Court Judge Larry Card said the proposal was unsatisfactory and that he wanted someone to be with Linehan 24 hours a day.

Linehan's lawyer, Kevin Fitzgerald, argued that she is not a danger to society and is not likely to flee because of her family obligations. He asked Card to reduce her bail from $500,000 to $75,000 or less, and allow her to return to Olympia. Fitzgerald said Linehan would wear an electronic monitoring device and that her husband, Colin Linehan, would watch over her at night. A friend, Maj. Alvin Tiu, a doctor in the U.S. Army, would check in on her daily while her husband was at work, Fitzgerald said.

Prosecutor Pat Gullufsen objected, saying the bail and custody arrangement was more appropriate for a theft case, not murder.

He argued against allowing Linehan to leave the state at all.

Colin Linehan sat in the first row of the gallery watching his wife of eight years sitting across the courtroom in handcuffs. When he testified, he stood at ease, military style, and told the court that he was born in Anchorage, grew up in Olympia and worked his way through medical school at Tulane University before he was deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army.

Linehan described his relationship with his wife and their life in Washington. He assured Card he would call police if his wife attempted to flee. His face reddened when Gullufsen asked him about a 2000 shoplifting arrest in Maryland, when Colin Linehan was accused of concealing about $700 of Nordstrom's merchandise in his child's stroller. Colin Linehan said the incident was a misunderstanding and that he and his wife had planned to buy the items. He was never charged, and the case was dismissed a year later.

Kenneth Leppink - father of Kent John Leppink, one of Mechele Linehan's former fiances, who was found dead near Hope in 1996 - listened in on the proceeding by telephone but declined to make a statement to the court. The younger Leppink told his father in a letter immediately before his death that Linehan had reason to kill him and to suspect her if he ended up dead.

Card said he would consider letting Linehan leave Alaska if the court was guaranteed greater supervision of her. He said he wants to see someone supervise Linehan 24 hours a day. "The weakest link is the defendant," he said.

Another bail hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Daily News reporter Megan Holland can be reached at mrholland@adn.com.