Sunday, July 27, 2008

Colin's Introduction

Greetings Friends,

My name is Colin Linehan. I am the husband of Mechele Linehan. I have known Mechele for over 10 years and she is beloved to many. My audience for these postings is intended for those who are interested in lifting the veil of tabloid media and peering into a reality based on facts and understanding. The “reality” of the situation doesn’t include a made for television narrative concocted for maximum negative impact. Sorry. This narrative won’t make sensational headlines or sell newspapers. It, therefore, has no commercial value. The truth rarely does.

Before I proceed, it is necessary to make a focused disclaimer. This web-log site was not created by me. I had no input or involvement in its creation. This site was created by family friends who have peered into Mechele’s heart and spirit and have been impacted by her generous being. Mechele and I are blessed by a myriad of friends and we are lucky to count this blogspot’s creators among them.

As a side note, I must say that I admire the bravery and initiative of Kevin and Terri. Let me explain. I have read very little of the media coverage and even less of the malicious, anonymous comments made by ignorant individuals to the newspapers that have covered Mechele’s trial. Some people have pointed out the more absurd comments to humor me. They are indeed humorous to the extent that people can make claims about events they know nothing about. “I like to criticize things I don’t know about”. To me, that is funny. But, in truth, that is the direct fault of my family by choosing to not get involved with the media during the trial. So, there are no hard feelings from me. But for friends to voluntarily put themselves into an arena that invites mockery and ridicule is admirable.

Mechele and I have never wanted or sought out media attention from this tragedy. In fact, the opposite is true. We have turned down so many offers from producers of major television shows and editors of newspapers and periodicals looking to exploit Mechele’s peripheral association with the Leppink’s tragedy for ratings and sales. Yes, that is correct… “Peripheral”. I know what sentiments, from those convinced of Mechele’s guilt, will be provoked by using this phrasing. I am not naive. Contrary to the inference that I am a clueless husband blinded by love, the truth doesn’t lie within that categorization. These postings do not have the intention to defend myself. Anyone that knows me can tell you that the one adjective that doesn’t apply to me is “naive”. The purpose is to expose the readers to many facts and circumstances that have not been reported on and reveal the shallowness of the arguments made by the prosecution that were sold to the media and jury. You will indeed see that “justice is a game” and that the rules are flexible and often ignored.

The truth of the events and circumstances that surrounded the relationships of many people associated with Kent Leppink before his death have been revealed to the media, and thus to you, in an extremely incomplete and biased package. This is because our family decided not to participate in the process. From the trial standpoint, we felt we only had to challenge the assertions made by the prosecution and show that the narrative presented by the State had “more holes than Swiss cheese”. We decided not to focus on a “story” to explain the narrative of Mechele’s life and relationships at that time. This was a conscious decision based on the fact that the prosecution’s narrative contradicted itself and their witnesses were flawed, to say the least.

We have no regrets about this decision from a legal perspective. The fact of the matter, however, is that this case was decided using a method that relied on factors other than the strict legal constraints that are inherent in our system. This is a serious allegation, but the facts that I will give to support this assertion are hard to ignore. I will use the juror’s own words to show some of this. For example, one of the juror’s stated to a reporter that one factor in the reasoning of Mechele’s guilt was that the defense didn’t give the jurors a “story” about what happened. This alone is an incredibly scary statement that goes against the very grain of our justice system. The legal burden on Mechele was not to describe the events and what happened. The burden rested solely with the State to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mechele committed the crime she was accused of. The role of the jury was to presume Mechele innocent and leave the burden of proof on the State, not on Mechele. These were the rules of the “game” that we played. I will show with jury and witness statements that the burden was placed on Mechele to prove her innocence.

I will also describe events in the trial that were ignored by the media and by the jury that support my assertions. This will be done using quotes from the trial transcript and from statements made by witnesses, the prosecution team, and the jury itself. I will not rely on hearsay statements or extrapolations. My objective is to remain empiric in every instance. If I stray from that, I will make clear that the conclusion or interpretation is my own.

My ideal is to make available only the facts that are clear and unassailable. It is true that some of these facts have not been presented in the media and some were not allowed into the trial. I will discuss these in three different links: Media, Legal, and Personal. This is a work in progress and is just getting started. There will be many more posts and documents, including audio of police interrogations, to come. The empiric data will rest mainly in the “Legal” link. This is truly a work in process and needs to be cleared by legal counsel. So, id est, stay tuned.

For those of you interested in truth and not tabloid, I invite you to read my postings. Also, our family appreciates the support of the hundreds of people who have written and expressed their support and dismay. This “case” is far from over, and we will continue the fight.

Colin Linehan

“An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.”

Bob Dylan, “Chimes of Freedom”

Donate Airline Miles to Mechele's daughter and husband

As legal expenses pile up, it is getting harder and harder for Mechele's daughter and husband to travel to Alaska for visits. If you would like to help by donating airline miles, please contact Mechele's mom, Sandy, at

Thanks again!
Keep the faith!

Legal Defense Fund for Mechele

Mechele's Mom, Sandy McWilliams, is starting a legal defense fund for her. She will be posting more particulars about the fund soon. If you would like to help support Mechele's legal defense, there are two options for giving to the fund:

1. Donate using Paypal with the button here or on the sidebar (a percentage of your donation will be taken by Paypal fees.)

2. Send a check, made out to Sandy at the following address (full donation goes to the fund):

Sandy McWilliams
3116 Prescott Drive
Moss Point, MS 39562

At this time, donations are not tax-deductible. If you have questions about the fund, please direct them to Sandy at

Whatever is given is truly appreciated from the bottom of our hearts.

Sandy's Sentencing Letter

Honorable Judge Philip Volland

Your Honor,

This letter is an extremely difficult one to write. As a mother I want to reach out to you to send our Mechele home. I hope that some of the letters you may receive will paint a picture of the Mechele you were never exposed to.

As a child Mechele was often quiet and shy, very much like her daughter,. She was a loving and giving child and got much more pleasure in watching butterflies rather than television. From her early childhood she loved animals. The only two things I absolutely refused to allow her to have was a snake and a monkey! Other than those two creatures our household always included various pets. Mechele’s love of animals carried into her adulthood. And, like the home she grew up in, their home is also shared by an assortment of dogs, a cat and two birds.

Her giving and caring nature extended to many people. While in grammar and high school she volunteered to tutor younger students who were having difficulty with reading and English. She never met a stranger and treated people equally regardless of their statue in life. When Hurricane Katrina struck our area in 2005 Mechele and Colin were in Belize. Upon their arrival home she was unable to contact us. Seeing the devastation on television she immediately loaded her SUV with food, water and supplies and drove to the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Olympia. We had four and a half feet of water in our home and lost all three automobiles. And of course all types of communication had become unavailable. Fortunately on her way here we finally got a signal on our cell phone and were able to assure her we were okay. She came equipped with tools and immediately began removing our soggy, moldy sheetrock. The supplies that we did not need she brought to a nearby shelter. When learning that the shelter was almost out of their diaper supply, she drove until she found them and brought them back to the shelter. I am not bragging on my daughter but simply trying to provide you with examples of the type of person that she is.

Her greatest accomplishment and joy has been my grandchild. Mechele has been an extraordinary mother. When Colin was deployed to Iraq Mechele explained to her that her daddy was serving his country and protecting her as well as everyone’s freedom. She has been a “hands on mom.” She has introduced her daughter to camping, skiing, ballet and how to attend a Christmas Tea. Colin is a wonderful father but he can’t take the place of Mechele. When they decided to open their clinic their daughter was brought in to design the Kids Korner. Their daughter has been the focal point of their lives since her arrival.

Judge Volland, I could continue to relate instances that reflect Mechele’s character but I think you can see that. I cannot see anything positive in keeping her in prison. What a loss that would be. Not just for her family but for the people that she has yet to help. Her contribution to society is truly an asset not a liability.

Finally I will beseech you to look into your heart and think of my grandchild. She needs her mother. This has been a devastating experience for her. I cannot envision her growing up without her mother. Colin can’t pick out dresses for dances nor teach her to fix her hair and the proper way to apply lipstick. Please don’t take that away from her. The time I spent at the trial leads me to conclude that you are a fair and just man. I trust that you will do everything within the realm of your power to send Mechele back to her family.


Sandy McWilliams Lowe

On a Personal Note (from Colin)

It is one thing for me to put myself in the media spotlight by appearing on two major network broadcasts. I am a man who is immune to any public ridicule or perceptions of being a stooge. I know myself too well to let any of that effect me. I am well grounded by a myriad of friends and family and by my own sense of self. I am not claiming to be “self-actualized” via Maslow’s hierarchy, but I am comfortable with myself. It is entirely another matter where my friends and family are involved.

The fact of the matter is that my wife is a convicted murderer. I obviously think that does not equal truth or justice. Anyone with a modicum of intellectual curiosity knows that there are guilty individuals proclaimed innocent and innocent individuals proclaimed guilty in our justice system. We played the game with a set of rules and the prosecution played the game with another. We lost. Fortunately, in our system, there are checks to balance that, and the “game” continues. My prayers focus on justice through the law. The appeal process for Mechele is the only game in my sight.

Anyone can throw any arrows, insults, and mockery towards me. I’m good. It really doesn’t bother me. Think of me as a dupe who is “under a spell” from my sorceress wife. More power to you. Just leave my daughter out of it. Mechele’s character and being has already been reduced to tatters by the process. She is, by the way, still standing strong with her head up and her optimism intact. Sorry, she is grounded as well. What I have a hard time with, however, are insults and mockery directed at our family and friends who support Mechele.

It, again, is one thing for me to flash my mug on a camera and ping answers back from national correspondents. It is an entirely different thing for dear friends to put their beings and insights into national media. I have no say in that. Everyone who has let themselves be interviewed on national television in support of Mechele has done so on their own volition. I can only sit back and appreciate their courage. God bless them. If you want to tweak me, I will let you in on a little secret. All you have to do is bash them. Nothing is more touching to me than their willingness to step in front of the lens of the national media and speak up for Mechele. They are not encouraged or orchestrated by myself, Mechele, or our legal counsel. It is an honorable undertaking to put yourself in the crosshairs for someone who you care about when it can only bring unwanted attention.

So here it is, in no particular order:

Thank you all who wrote letters in support of Mechele.

Thanks to Kevin Fitzgerald and his amazing family for everything they continue to do in support of Mechele and my family.

Thank you, Kevin and Terri, who are truly a blessing and brave beyond measure.

Thank you, Kristina for your incalculable courage to speak with NBC and CBS on behalf of Mechele.

Thank you, Honi for your enormous risk to open up yourself and family to ridicule for your support of Mechele and revelation of your (way) past occupation.

Thank you, Tina for your ability to stay honest and for courageously inviting ridicule to your family from the close-minded who still cling to the Puritanical Paradox.

Thank you, Denise for your selfless sacrifice to reveal truth at your own personal risk.

Thank you, Julie Thrasher for the courage to speak the truth and reveal an aspect of the realities of the American juror system.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan for your insight and fortitude.

Thanks to all I didn’t mention, who know who you are. Too many to list.

And to those who have supported Mechele with books that keep her bearings straight in a situation that lends itself to easily losing those bearings.

I noticed that at the end of the trial and during sentencing that the words “God” and “Christian” were used profusely by individuals wishing Mechele harm and misery. Of note, this is not God’s Justice. This is Man’s justice, and it is deeply flawed. Those of us who keep the faith and don’t wear it on our sleeves are the true people of faith, in my opinion. God bless you all. The process of Man’s justice is not over and you ALL are the true angels.

Much Love,


First Post Concerning Trial (2 witnesses)

This first post about legal and trial items will be low on substance and is intended more as a first volley. Many more postings will follow. This really is the reason I have decided to make any posts at all. There are too many issues raised during the trial that went unreported that are vital to understanding the process that led to an innocent woman being convicted of murder. Some of them you will find extremely surprising.

Again, I will rely on transcripts, quotes, and even audio to lay down an empiric framework. From that empiric framework, it will then be possible for me to make a clear argument based on facts. Any postings will have to be cleared through Mechele’s lawyers and some of what I plan to post already has been cleared. What I would like to do now is to talk about some facts surrounding witnesses that testified for the state. The quotes from the legal transcripts will be added in later and this will just be a brief opening. I plan on adding much more, but I would like to point out some of the dubious testimony from a few individuals.

To be clear, there were four character witnesses that the prosecution called to impugn Mechele’s character. These were the individuals that the prosecution relied on to paint Mechele as “evil”. As a legal team, it was decided not to bring any character witnesses during the trial. This was decided because the witnesses of the prosecution were, to us, so unreliable and full of contradictions. Also, Mechele’s character wasn’t a legal factor. She could have been a junkie with no scruples with the worst attitude and demeanor known to man, but that wouldn’t have mattered per the judge’s own instructions. The case wasn’t about who Mechele was, but about whether the state could prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the scant circumstantial evidence left no doubt that Mechele planned a murder.

The latter posts will examine that circumstantial evidence in great detail and point out the many contradictions that the prosecution has yet to explain. They will involve testimony, emails and allegations. Let me start, however, with a few of the character witnesses. There were four witnesses used by the prosecution to paint Mechele as “evil”, greedy beyond measure, and completely selfish. The witnesses are Scott Hilke, Laura Aspiotis, Brett Ridell, and John Carlin IV.

1. Laura Aspiotis:

a. Laura is in individual who worked at the Bush Company with Mechele. Laura claimed to be friends with Mechele and stated that she hung out with Mechele outside of work multiple times. Unfortunately, for her credibility, she contradicted herself on the stand and Mr. Fitzgerald pointed out the fact that in her previous interviews she stated she only went over to Mechele’s house a few times.

b. Mr. Fitzgerald also pointed out that her previous statements indicated that she was anything but a “friend” and that Mechele and her were not close. In fact, she previously stated that she didn’t like Mechele at all.

i. One of the reasons Laura stated that she didn’t like Mechele was that Mechele helped to get John Carlin IV inpatient psychiatric treatment. This was because John was missing school, doing drugs, and had a suicide attempt. Since Mechele cared for John IV like a son, she demanded that he get help. When Laura was asked on the stand whether she felt an individual that was doing drugs, missing school, and attempting suicide might need psychiatric care, her response was, “I don’t know”.

c. Miss Aspiotis was also the individual that stated Mechele had a fictional “hero” from the movie “The Last Seduction”. If you have time, you can read my letter to the judge where I explain my knowledge of Mechele’s admiration of the actress Linda Fiorentino. I sat in court, amazed, that the judge was even considering letting the jury watch this movie that had no relation to the crime that the prosecution alleged. In fact, its sole purpose for the prosecution was to tie Mechele to a fictional sociopath (more on that later).

i. The prosecution had Miss Aspiotis’s journals entered into court the day of her testimony. In them, she repeats her disdain for Mechele. More importantly, however, she has a very strange habit of recording all the movies she watches. She has it down to the date she watched them, the story, and then gives a little review.

1. “The Last Seduction” is indeed listed in her journal. However, it states she watched it alone with her husband.

d. The prosecution asked the jury if they could stay a little later so they could finish up their questioning. After all, Miss Aspiotis had to get back to the East Coast to take care of her autistic child and this ordeal had been a great hardship on her.

i. Miss Aspiotis spent the next two days in Anchorage getting drunk with certain members of the media.

e. One of the jurors mentioned that a factor in determining Mechele’s guilt was that Mechele was “staring daggers” at Ms. Aspiotis during her testimony.

i. Really… Wow.

2. Brett Ridell:

a. Mr. Ridell is a convicted child molester who was brought in to testify that Mechele had manipulated him and stolen her property.

i. The property in question was a big red truck. I can’t even remember the make, but I can remember that when I met Mechele she had a big red truck parked in front of her house. She explained to me that it wasn’t hers and that she was trying to get it back to its owner.

1. I remember multiple times she was on the phone trying to track down Brett so he could come and get his truck or pay for it to be shipped up to AK.

2. I know that having this truck was a big pain in the butt, and, on a selfish note, it was taking up a parking spot.

3. It is hard to contact someone to give back their property that they lent you when that person in incarcerated for molesting children.

b. Mr. Ridell also made statement during trial about his relationship with Mechele. Every one of those statements was contradicted by his own voice during a police interview that was played back to him by Mr. Fitzgerald (more on this later) during the trial.

More on the other two witnesses in future posts. I am actually kind of working under a deadline with these posts as I want to get them up before the NBC broadcast. I have been super busy with work at my clinic, work with the Army, medical issues at Hiland, and participation with the appellate case. More importantly, I have been busy with my two main jobs: Husband and Father. Many pots on the stove, but none are burning.

Thanks to all of you who have read these posts with an open mind and are interested in learning more. Because, folks, there is a lot more.

Colin Linehan

"48 Hours Mystery" and "Dateline NBC"

Mechele and I made the decision from the beginning of the discovery of the pending indictment that the facts of the case, State of Alaska vs. Mechele Linehan, belonged in the courtroom and not in the media. There were numerous fabrications that the prosecution leaked to the press in order to build their case (More on these in future posts). They went unanswered by us. Why wouldn’t we want to defend Mechele’s character and life and answer allegations as they came? For one, what does a media narrative have to do with the facts in the courtroom? Should not a legal case be decided on just the facts presented in the legal arena? Why escalate a legal battle by adding a media battle? To play that game would lead to more hurt and attention and detract from the tragedy of Kent Leppink’s death. Unfortunately we are past that.

As for the media, it is difficult for me to not insert opinion when discussing the facts. The irresponsibility of many who have reported on this case makes it difficult for me to not opine. I will discuss our interactions with CBS and NBC and their subsequent magazine broadcasts in this post. Of note, I have not watched the CBS program “48 Hours Mystery” episode about Kent Leppink’s death. I also don’t plan on watching the upcoming NBC “Dateline” episode.

I did, however, participate in both. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do. For one, I do not like television news in general. What can one learn from sound-bites and selective editing? In many cases the selective editing will lead to a bias that the producer’s have. Rarely is television news ever “Fair and Balanced”. So why participate?

I participated because, in part, these two magazine shows were going to air regardless. We felt it necessary, at this time, to at least attempt to point out many of the irresponsible inaccuracies presented by the prosecution as fact. But, this doesn’t matter legally at all, so why reverse course and open ourselves up to hypocrisy? That is a good question that is difficult to answer. Probably the best way to answer that is to reverse the question. If your beloved family member, be it your daughter, wife, or spouse, was vilified and portrayed as someone she is absolutely not, would you defend her? Would you open your home and life to some crappy television show that is the main outlet available to defend her? Well, we did. To a point. There is no mention of my daughter’s name and no pictures of her face. I had to fight like hell for that, and even then our participation hinged on the availability of the television crews to film part of our life. I limited that as much as possible. I was told by both organizations that this is a “must” for television because it is “visual”.

I have no illusions about what the networks are interested in first and foremost. That is ratings, which equal advertising revenue. The tabloid nature of the state’s narrative is manna for the network executives that they can use to excrete money. There is something, however, that I was unprepared for. Let me explain.

Those of you who watch these magazine shows will notice that Mechele participated with CBS but not NBC. Why was this? First of all, producers from both of these shows contacted us very soon after the indictment. Our family and lawyers actually developed a personal relationship with a reporter and producer from “48 Hours”. By the end of the trial, they had our trust. This is one instance where you can use the word “naive” to describe us and our legal team.

So, Mechele decided to be open to the idea about appearing on the CBS broadcast. Unfortunately for Mechele, she got blindsided. Remember, Mechele does not have unlimited phone usage. In fact, it is very limited. I told Mechele not to do anything with CBS without Kevin present. The producer, who I will not name out of my own twisted sense of honor, pleaded with our attorney to let Mechele appear. Mr. Kevin Fitzgerald, however, could not accompany Mechele in the timeline that CBS insisted was necessary. Kevin then made a very clear verbal agreement with an individual he trusted. The agreement made by the producer of “48 Hours” was that he would not ask Mechele anything pertaining to the case or her relationships with individuals involved in the case. This was clear and explicit.

CBS then showed up with their camera crew and told Mechele that Kevin said it was “OK” for her to talk with them if they didn’t ask about the case. Mechele, in her continuing regret, agreed. Needless to say, the correspondent for CBS peppered Mechele with many questions regarding the case and associated relationships. Mechele was defensive at many times and looked to the producer and cameraman for help. She, I am told, even told the crew to turn off the cameras when they wouldn’t let up.

Needless to say, the network decided to air those instances where Mechele was defensive and upset at the questioning. The questions that were not supposed to be present, on the word and honor of the CBS producer, surprised and upset her. She was alone and felt ambushed.

The reason Mechele considered appearing on “48 Hours” was, on assurances from people working for CBS that we trusted, that it would help counter the negative images of Mechele during and after the trial. We were told that they wanted to capture “the Mechele we know”, the one that was “completely opposite” of the portrayal “so far”. However, they used a tactic that is unsavory to me. You say to a person, we won’t ask you about X and Y, and then proceed to ask compassionate questions. Then, when the “subject’s” guard is down, you ask them about X and Y.

It is a tactic that does a few things. For one, you can get combative emotion from this. You can catch someone off guard and get them to be angry and upset. However, it works best if you trust the journalists that are using this tactic because the emotions will be rawer. It is why I told Mechele not to interview with anyone unless Kevin was present.

The breach of trust was not with me. It was breeched by CBS to a lawyer who had been nothing but open with the producer. Mr. Fitzgerald is a man of high honor, and a verbal agreement with a producer who had earned his trust was good enough for him. Mr. Fitzgerald, needless to say, was genuinely shook up at this. I think “disgusted” is the more appropriate term. In my opinion, it is example of when someone uses the positive traits of an individual against them for another purpose.

My complaint and critique of CBS is not with their questions to Mechele or is it with Mechele’s answers. You must remember that when your lawyer says to you that you should not answer certain questions, a person’s response might be to deny and obfuscate. My complaint comes with the tactics they used to put Mechele in that position. To many of us, we still take the words and vows of a person we trust as having implicit honor. That again is a minor critique because certain media will use whatever they can to get their desired story. Fair enough. But when you decide to air specific responses of an interview that paint an individual in an unfavorable light, it is important that your news organization doesn’t use verbal betrayal to obtain them. In other words, to have someone say they want the cameras turned off because of a question that wasn’t supposed to be asked, it is an ethical move to not air the footage of the person asking your organization to turn off the cameras.

One of the reasons we decided to cooperate with CBS was because of their history of journalistic integrity. Recently, I read about their nightly news program asking a presidential candidate a question and then editing a response to a different question as the answer to the question asked! Is that technique taught at the journalism departments at prestigious universities? I would guess, “No”.

In fairness, again, I have not seen the program. However, I have heard enough about it and their selective editing of Mechele, to make me sad. Also, in fairness, I understand that they did attempt to show that the evidence Mechele was convicted on was sparse and open for much interpretation.

Of note, and to the credit of CBS, their cameraman was also a journalist. He managed to track down an important witness that we were unable to contact prior to the trial. She was nowhere to be found. This cameraman, with a former FBI agent, managed to find the remote location where she was. Her name is Honi Martin and she is an incredible person. She knew Mechele when Mechele was up in Alaska and also knew Kent Leppink. She has incredible insight into the relationship and into who Mechele was at that time. Coincidently, it is the exact same Mechele that all her family and friends know too. It does not include a “spider queen” cartoon presented by the prosecution.

As another caveat, CBS decided to not air any of Ms. Martin’s interview and instead relied on a former co-worker of Mechele’s, who didn’t even hang out with Mechele, for a portrayal of someone who knew Mechele in the past. Her name is Tina, and she is incredibly gracious and caring. However, she had nothing to add of substance, other than to show that exotic dancers are human’s too and not monsters. So, CBS’s angle was to focus on Mechele’s occupation that she had for less than two years in Anchorage and where she wasn’t even working at the time of the death of Kent Leppink.

I don’t know what NBC will do with their interviews but the one thing they won’t do is manipulate Mechele’s image any more than it has already been. I can only hope that they portray substance over tabloid. But, as we all know, tabloid sells. I can also say that the producers and correspondent for NBC have been very gracious. I will, however, rely on friends and family who watch their program to inform me if it had any journalistic integrity or if it was a tabloid story for the ratings.

I never have wanted to be on television. I can think of a million things, off of the top of my head, which I would rather do. I felt compelled, on my honor, to defend my wife from irresponsible speculation based on flimsy circumstance. The only way to interpret the circumstantial evidence the prosecution used to infer guilt was to portray Mechele as “evil” and soulless. Again, if someone tried to do that to your loved one, what would you do?

Colin Linehan

The Olympian

This newspaper used to be called “The Daily Olympian”. When I was growing up in Olympia, it was referred to as “The Daily O”. Before I present a personal critique, let me share an anecdote.

I remember waking up early in 4th grade and I went out to get the paper. Snow was everywhere. It was covering the driveway, the cars, the fauna, and the newspaper. The white was blinding even in the early morning sun. For those of you not familiar with the Puget Sound, this is rare sight. I wiped the snow off of the plastic covering of the hometown “community” newspaper, thrown at the doorstep from a “paperboy” in those days. The headline that day, taking up the majority of the “above the fold” portion, was “It’s Snowing!” I thought to myself, “Really?”.

My family arrived in Olympia in 1979 and there I remained until after high school. My father was a family physician who delivered hundreds of children in the area. I meet people all the time who let me know my father caught ‘em while they were leaving the comfort of their mother’s womb. He was old-school. He saw low income patients and insurance was an afterthought. When living out on some acreage in Boston Harbor (Yes, there is a strip of land in Olympia bordering the Puget Sound called Boston Harbor. Go figure.), my pop even took some chickens as payment once. We were part of the community. The population of Olympia, at that time, was just over 20,000. It was a small town.

I have always felt part of the community. I was overjoyed when the Army sent me back to the Puget Sound to fulfill my active duty commitment. I was home. We even bought a house in Olympia. Mechele immersed herself in the community with volunteer work, service at the local Catholic Church, and neighborly good will.

Let me now explain how this “community” paper acted when my wife was indicted. The day of the indictment they sent a photographer to take a picture of our home. The picture ended up taking up most of the front page with the obligatory mention of “stripper” permeating their story. I have written previously what I think of basing the media narrative on Mechele’s work as an exotic dancer during a short period of her life. It is inane. But, it does indeed sale newspapers. My home, where my daughter lives, however, is not a story.

The Olympian also sent some journalists to my daughter’s school to ask questions of staff who knew Mechele. My daughter actually remembers the commotion to this day. One journalist tried to contact us on multiple occasions. I have nothing against the guy personally, but his dealings with our personal space leave something to be desired. When he first contacted us, on our home phone, we were very gracious and let him know that any communication must first go through our lawyers. We informed him that our lawyers would then relay his requests to us and we would go from there. He didn’t seem to get it. Multiple times he would call our home and ask to speak with us. I have them all recorded. It is crazy to me that a journalist, who really wanted to communicate with us, would ignore our simple request. He even called as recently as two months ago, without contacting our lawyers first. Why would they do that? What are the responsibilities of a "community" newspaper?

Colin Linehan

Judy Linehan's Testimony from the Sentencing Hearing

My name is Judy Linehan.

I am the mother of Colin Linehan.

Your Honor, before I describe to you the Mechele that
I know, I'll give a brief sketch of my background and
life experience. I have been a Registered Nurse since
1965 and practiced my profession actively for over 25
years. One of the hallmarks of working in healthcare
is engaging with a wide range and array of people and

It is also relevant to add that 14 years ago I watched
my brother and his wife live through the
incomprehensible murder and it’s aftermath of their only
son. This bright young man and Eagle Scout was shot
following the commandeering and car-jacking of his
vehicle just weeks before his 21st birthday. A court
proceeding is not designed to touch into the profound
and sacred aspects of a person’s life, but I want Kent
Leppink’s family to know my family and I appreciate your
grief and loss in a very real way even as we are
impelled to vividly and accurately present Mechele’s
nature and character before this court.

Your Honor, in my letter I described how I was drawn
to Mechele and her zest for life from our first meeting
when Colin invited her to our home in Washington state
during Christmas break 1997. Several months later I
flew to New Orleans to visit them and meet Mechele’s
mom. A memory of the trip that always brings a smile
occurred when riding around on their royal tour of the
city. Colin was just about to pull away from an
intersection stop when Mechele noticed a stray dog
approaching her window. “Colin--” she pleaded. “No
Mechele, we can’t bring home every dog that wants to
jump into our car.” She accepted his realistic
pronouncement, but it was obvious she would if she
could; and so began my initial glimpse into the
magnanimity of this young woman’s heart.

Later in the year our family gathered in New Orleans
for Colin’s graduation and their wedding. During a
walking tour of the downtown area, Mechele greeted a
homeless man by name and exchanged brief good wishes.
To this day I’m still incredulous at that moment. I
volunteer with a Saturday morning nursing clinic at an
advocacy center for our homeless and am fully aware that
this population is invisible to the community at

Mechele does not know a stranger. Social standing,
race, - or whatever we use to keep ourselves separate
in our world - do not enter into her equation. She has
an uncommon capacity to look at a person beyond the
externals and take in their humanity.

I’ve known Mechele for over 10 years. The last 6 ½
have been in close proximity. We not only live in the
same city, but also in the same neighborhood - 8
blocks or a brisk 10 minute walk away. In this span of
time our lives have intertwined and given me a special
vantage point to come to know my daughter-in-law.

Your Honor, Mechele’s heart for the poor, those less
privileged , and basically for all God’s creatures great
and small has shown through her adult life. Mechele is a
carer. In every city where she’s lived she’s
volunteered her time and unique spark of life. I view
generosity as an unwavering aspect of her being
because of the way it flows even in the busiest times
of her life. She’d have commitments clogging her
calendar and yet always made a place for others, be it
at the dinner table or in the spare bedroom. As I
mentioned in the letter her stint volunteering at the
Crisis Clinic was not a 9 to 5 shift, but every Friday
night, midnight to 0800 while the rest of us slept or
took a TGIF break.

Dr. Mills assessment and report clearly articulated
the Mechele I know. The only difference being the
expression he uses clinically as traits, I put in the
terms of qualities and gifts. It’s important to
underscore where there is no evidence of pathology,
terms like impulsive and non-conformist need to be
examined under the lens of the manner in which they
are expressed in Mechele’s life. If we don’t flesh it
out, the negative charge assigned to a pathological
state leads the seeker of facts down a path where we
risk losing the meaning of a common term used
interchangeably in the context of pathology.

Webster defines impulse as “a stimulation of the mind
to action.“ Encountering a cold, homeless man on the
street in Anchorage, and giving him a ride to a café,
and money in his pocket does not conform to
conventional wisdom, but I for one am surely thankful
I live in a world where a young woman responds so
naturally from her compassion, empathy, and impulse
for genuine caring first and foremost.

Saturday afternoon I was out and about in downtown
Anchorage. Walking on 4th Street I came upon a man
panhandling. I’d smiled and acknowledged him before
realizing it would invite the dreaded decision: “to
give or not to give.” I hate it: even with my
background and own whole hearted support of homeless,
I still automatically scroll through a scenario in my
head of social consequences. No matter what decision I
make it is never satisfying.

On Saturday, however, my thoughts instead turned to
Mechele. That was it, I dug into my wallet and
discovered, “whew, that was easy.” But then came the
2nd test. I was approached by another. Oh shoot, my
1st thought is, “I’ve already given, so I’m good.” Not
to be - Mechele’s face pops in again - I could not get
away with it. But the truth is I felt absolutely in
synch with my true nature in these moments - and perhaps
may have made a little break-through.

And one more little “impulse to action vignette”: I
recall a Christmas several years ago. The whole clan
had gathered from across the country. Mechele was in
the forefront of instigating a trek up Mount Ranier
for sledding. She rounded up snow gear for the kids,
food for the journey, mobilized us with her energy and
enthusiasm, and up the mountain we went in our caravan.
I still see the faces and excitement of the children at
the wonder of snow - no, snow is not part of our
everyday in the Northwest.

This past October I read the brochure for Hiland
Correctional facility. I was first struck by what
sounded like the humaneness of this facility and the
Alaska penal system. But my next thought after reading
about their rehabilitation program was, “how does this
fit Mechele?” She is an accomplished, grounded,
evolving woman. I had a disconnect between a program
geared, for example, to build a return to workplace
skill, and how that could possibly apply to a woman
with Mechele‘s capacity and gifts.

I am a Certified Rehabilitation Nurse using the Rehab
model in my practice in a hospital inpatient
rehabilitation unit. This cannot be compared to the
Social Rehabilitation of a prison system to be sure,
and yet from what I read the rehabilitation goal of
returning an individual safely to their community is
exactly the same in your model as well as mine. The
interventionist must first assess what a person’s
deficits are, therefore, determining what barriers
must be worked through to achieve this goal.

Your Honor, when recidivism, relapsing, committing a
crime is considered in your sentencing you must
consider Mechele’s striking history of accomplishment,
volunteerism, and good citizenship over her adult

The long and the short of it is: Mechele’s essential
nature in my experience of her through years of
relationship is of a woman imbued with a love for
life, and the energy, spontaneity, and impulse
necessary to bring this delight into others’ lives.
Dogs follow her home, still. Cats show up at her door
step. Her love of beauty blooms in her garden, and in
her home with hand made creations. Children are drawn
to her. I’ve carried up this love letter signed and
sealed from her 4 year old nephew for his Aunt

The essence of her person is the polar opposite of
someone who would harm another; is utterly
incompatible with representing Mechele as callous, in
other words as unfeeling or unkind.

Your Honor, this brings me to the reprehensible term
“evil” that has seeped into the court record here. It
is a sad commentary on our times that this word has
become a receptacle for all manner of conjured
suspicions. It is employed to create a sense that
judgmental thought is fact. Again, this label bears no
resemblance to the person of Mechele Linehan.

Your Honor, I respectfully petition you to strike the
term, “evil”, from testimony and all written record of
this sentencing hearing. There is no room for
inflammatory, immaterial terminology such as this in a
court of justice!

And to the media I say: from this day forward may the
word “evil” cease to be in the lexicon of the Mechele
Linehan narrative, the narrative that has served to
fill the void of evidentiary merit in this case. It is
an inexplicable travesty!

Issues were raised in Friday’s hearing which were
meant to bear on Mechele’s character as regards her
marriage to Colin. I’ll now begin to share my
observations and experiences of their couple bond.

In the months before Colin left for Iraq I indeed felt
the tension in their home. I understood the angst as I
myself was a basket case over my son’s imminent
departure to a war zone. They allowed me to accompany
them to Fort Lewis the night of his unit’s deployment.
I assure you it was a time of utmost grieving and
tenderness as we let him go and the 3 of us faced into
the unknowns of the separation.

We all shared indescribable relief at Colin’s safe
return from Iraq, and yet tensions between the 2 of
them remained obvious. I don’t know how long it was
before they told me they were seeing a marriage
counselor, but I remember my relief, especially as
little by little I observed affection and easy going
playful banter coming back into their interactions.

I was deeply struck to learn about the divorce
statistics of Officer Iraq War Veterans about a year
after Colin’s return. The figure is well over 70%. In
fact, in Mechele’s Military Wife Support group there
would virtually have been none of the wives remaining
due to divorce should Colin have remained in the Army
and re-deployed with his unit 1 ½ years later. I felt
immense gratitude for Mechele, intuitively knowing in
my heart of hearts that it was her efforts that
assured they got to counseling. I say this despite the
fact I knew Mechele was the love of Colin’s life and he
would do anything to preserve their marriage - because
#1. it is most often the wife who gets the ball
rolling, and #2. I knew Mechele as a person who always
faced into issues of conflict rather than let them
simmer. Indeed, she seems hardwired that way. I
recently asked Colin to verify my impression with him
and he responded, “Yes, that’s precisely how it went.”
He would have done whatever it took to keep his family
together, but he was still reeling from the war, so it
was Mechele giving the counseling demand that put them
on road to healing in their relationship.

An amazing moment occurred during this time period. My
daughters and daughter-in-laws and I were having a
girls’ day hanging out together. At some point we
started down the well-traveled road of launching into
the males of the species. Mechele stopped the downward
spiral with her reflection, “You know, being married
helps me to become more, to do more than I’d otherwise
be able to if it were just me.” How beautiful it was
for a mother to witness this point of growth in
Mechele and in her relationship with my son.

I’ve long seen a growth dynamic at work in Mechele.
She truly aspires to be the best person she can be.
She worked hard to put resentments from her childhood
past to rest in the same way she was willing to dig in
and do the work to build a life-giving relationship with

Your Honor, I will now speak of their much loved 8
year old daughter. I won’t be using her name, so
please bear with any cumbersome phrasing. Their girl
is in counseling with a woman experienced in dealing
with children and trauma. The therapist told Colin
their child exhibits an unusual capacity to understand
what is happening in her young life and to navigate
the losses without losing hope, and actually of
holding onto her innocence compared to any other
children she’s seen. “Holding onto her innocence” -
this is what we all desperately want in her young life
- not to become jaded. Not to give up on life.

The counselor’s assessment speaks volumes to the
intuitive parenting their child has received from both
parents in her early childhood. You would not see this
if only one parent had the requisite nurturing skills
for a child’s growth and development. A disconnected
parent would undo the efforts of the more skilled. The
truth I see is that the individual parenting of Colin
and Mechele for their young daughter is remarkably
in-step - one with the other.

When Mechele was arrested in October of 2006, the
family circled the wagons to protect their little then
7 year old daughter to the extent possible.
The irony was that as Mechele’s mother, Colin, and I
along with aunts and uncles struggled to find the
words to explain her mom’s absence to my granddaughter
- we simultaneously came to the same thought. “If only
Mechele were here, she’d have exactly the right words
- she always does.” Your Honor, Mechele is a beautiful
mother, involved, listening, compassionate, intuitive,
and nurturing.

Before the trial began, their daughter told her mom,
“Mommy, I’m going to go to court and tell the judge
what a good mother you are, how much I love you, and
how you would never hurt anyone.”

Of course that visit wasn’t appropriate. But here are
her words for the record. She deserves to have her say
as she sits at home waiting for her mom to return.

Your Honor, I’m going on and on here, but I feel as if
I’m fighting for Mechele’s life - and for Colin and
their little family.

I’ve watched my son, Colin, during this ordeal and I
could not be prouder of him. His sense of honor, his
deep seated integrity, his fearless, passionate, and
articulate defense of the wife he believes in are
qualities we need to see expressed in this world. And
yet he is mindlessly ridiculed on the information
super-highway. I fully support the high road he takes
over and over again to live according to his values.

I’ve watched the proceedings with horror as Mechele
has been vilified by a narrative that bears no
resemblance to the love, creativity, and generous nature
she brings to life and relationships.

Judge Volland, my despairing fear is that a well-oiled
state machinery will keep turning right into
the moment of sentencing with never a regard for
Mechele Linehan’s humanity. You are the firewall for
that. I beg you to be that: to perceive the person of
Mechele behind my words, to discount a narrative that
became oh so convenient to a case where facts were
absent, to give weight to a woman’s testimony who sat
with the jury through the long weeks of the trial, to
permit Dr. Mills testimony to seep in. He carries
impeccable credentials, along with an outstanding
depth and breadth of clinical experience. The
foundation of his report is verifiable science
compiled over decades, the best science has to offer.

I stand here, Your Honor, to tell you I will defend
Mechele until my last breath. I love her, I believe in

I plead with you to administer the fairest minimum
sentence possible. Please give our family a ray of
hope that Mechele can be restored to her daughter and
to her family.

~Judy S Linehan

Judy's Sentencing Letter

To The Honorable Philip Volland:

I write to advocate for lenient sentencing on behalf of Mechele Linehan.

I first met Mechele when my son, Colin, brought her home to Olympia, WA during the 1997 holiday season to meet his family. It was a joy to watch their closeness; both had lost their dads at the same age and this seemed to be an element of their growing bond. Within a year we were celebrating and blessing this extraordinary couple in their marriage. I couldn’t have been more welcoming of my new daughter-in-law.

I formed an instant attachment to Mechele, and can say I have found more to admire in the eleven ensuing years since our first meeting than I could put onto these pages. She has a generous, outgoing nature. Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts in their home always included neighbors and friends who would otherwise have been alone on these family days.

I’ve observed through the years how much a sense of family means to Mechele. My favorite image of her is cooking up a storm with her Mom and sister when they had the rare occasion to visit and spend time in Olympia several years ago. Mechele exuded at once her warm hospitality, and a beautiful child-like delight reveling in their togetherness.

I watched her interact in her daughter’s school community where she was engaged and energetically involved in multiple volunteer efforts. In the Olympia community she volunteered on the Crisis Clinic hotline phone every Friday night for quite a while. I am a community volunteer myself but have yet to imagine giving up precious sleep from Friday night until Saturday morning in any work that I do.

And then there are the animals – dogs that could not be left homeless, cats that adopt her, fish that just show up, and her beloved birds. Mechele has an affinity for all creatures great and small, and they for her. It is a phenomenon. I watch her daughter with these same unfolding qualities and know Her daughter has been well nurtured in caring for creation.

Mechele in her garden is another beautiful image I hold. Color and life abounds. She creates beauty and tranquility there. My sense of her has long been that she is an artist in her essence.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Mechele loaded her car with water, food, blankets, baby food, toolkit, and GPS to head south to her Mom & sister who were battered by the storm. She was a woman on a mission. I was nervous about her going the whole distance alone and so I accompanied her as far as Omaha, where I disembarked to visit my parents. The surprising gift for me in this experience, other than being touched by Mechele’s intrepid spirit & energetic heart, was the gift of time – for the first time in our relationship I had concentrated one on one days with her. I saw her with new eyes. I hadn’t been paying attention in our everyday encounters. I had not appreciated how much she had grown in emotional maturity and balance over the past year or so. The forced intimacy of our cross country trek opened me even further to the dynamic of her being unfolding through time.

I have been painting a picture of Mechele as my family and I know her. It consists of small little sketches, but my earnest hope is that you will have a glimpse of the woman who has so very many gifts and qualities to share with the world, who from my witness of her is intent on becoming the best she can be and giving back to the world, who possesses an inner as well as an outer beauty.

The most heartfelt plea, however, is the most difficult to write down. Mechele & Colin’s 8 year old daughter, sits tenderly at the core of all our longing for a just sentence. She is bright, wise beyond her years, loving, and hurting so much. There is simply no one else who will be able to mother her in the attuned way Mechele does. They miss each other beyond the telling.

Thank you, Judge Volland, for your careful consideration of all these matters.


Judy S. Linehan

Kerry's Sentencing Letter

Your Honor Judge Volland,

I am Mechele Linehan’s sister-in-law. I am writing to share with you my relationship and knowledge of Mechele Linehan in hopes it will help you know a little more about her before sentencing. I hope this is not too late. I write because of the deep pain that my brother Colin and my niece are enduring and will endure if she is gone too long. I write for her neighbors, friends and community who I know that she gave selflessly to of her time, energy and heart.

She and her daughter have been tied at the hip. It is so hard for them to be apart. Her daughter is so bright and ahead of her age academically due to the time and energy Mechele spends with her. Her daughter helped her design her business office. Mechele is so good at allowing her daughter to contribute and honors her ideas. They traveled together, helped deliver pups together, biked together, gardened and so much more.

I lived out of town, so I did not see them much, but heard often when I was here from her friends what an amazing woman she was. There was always a friend or neighbor at her house, or friends of her daughter's. Mechele opened her home to all. People and animals big and small. Her home was a place of refuge for friends(and animals) who had no place to stay for awhile. Mechele seems to have two days to my one. I could not understand how she could fit it all in. I have known in one day for her to bike ride with her daughter, blueberry pick, knit, volunteer, cook/bake, get a little work in, garden, invite friends for dinner, care for her menagerie of animals, and watch a movie at home with Colin and her daughter, and probably get some reading in. Somewhere in there she probably got a trip in to GoodWill to recycle/salvage some item for one of her multiple ongoing art/craft/home projects. Extremely multi talented, and full of intense beauty, that when she touches something it can be transformed. What stands out to me most is her garden in this area. Her home is another example. When I first saw it I was terrified. It was such site. But she quickly transformed it into a beautiful home. I could not see it, but she did. She sees that is people as well. She tends to gives those, who others walk by, a chance. How many do that? She can see beyond the exterior, and the beauty inside. She is a very giving person to friends and community, and most importantly her daughter, and needs to be back home as soon as is possible.

I appreciate your reading my thoughts, and just hope it is not too late. Thank you for your time.


Kerry Mrazek

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kristina's Sentencing Letter

Judge Volland:

I am writing to urge you to be as lenient as possible when you
consider a sentence for Mechele Linehan for the following reasons.

Mechele Linehan is and has been a great and dear friend of mine for
the last seven years. Our daughters became great friends as toddlers
and we have shared treasured family fun since then.
Mechele and I met seven years ago at our neighborhood bakery. She
and her husband, Colin, had an enormous friendly dog. We soon found
out we had daughters the same age and each lived in an historic
home. Both of us worked in the political arena and had more in
common that contributed to us becoming great friends. I am presently
providing consulting services with my office in my home. Prior to
this, I was employed by Pfizer as Government Relations Manager for
the Northwest and held that job for 12 years. I graduated from the
University of Oregon with a degree in broadcast Journalism.

Mechele would be the first person to drop everything to help a
friend. When her husband's best friend from childhood lost his
brother, Mechele was the first to arrive on the scene to help the
distraught family and comfort them. This ready sacrifice fit in with
the volunteer work I had known her to do. She helped the County
Crisis Hot Line Clinic improve their operations, worked at the local
homeless shelter and more charitable organizations. I was
continually impressed and marveled at her patience with difficult
people and situations and her willingness to serve those less

She inspires me as a mother and citizen. When I would get
frustrated, she would show me the way to find grace with any
situation. Mechele is an enviable mother with charming counsel
perpetually available to her beautiful and intelligent little girl.
She provides love, grace, comforting boundaries, wisdom and beautiful
counsel to her daughter. Her constant presence at all her daughter's
schools was a commendable achievement few could emulate.

She treated the rude with "southern charm" continually showing me
that grace and humility improve the situation and indulging anger
does not.

Her daughter is a beautiful girl with impressive wisdom.
Her mother was rarely away from her side - continually volunteering
at school and encouraging Audrey through activities. Mechele invited
my daughter and I to see the Nutcracker in Seattle. My
daughter treasures those trips we had. Mechele's parenting wisdom
helped me through many frustrating moments – and always with advice
that allowed me to be kind and patient with the teachable moment.

My daughter's first sleepover was at Mechele's home. The little girls all
had a wonderful time and were even willing to go on a long walk with
Mechele's encouragement and ability to convey joy for life's little
pleasures. I trust her completely with my three children (I have
twin boys who are one year older than their sister) and they adore
her – not shy about protesting this accusation and conviction. She
is part of our extended family.

For a woman who was wrongfully convicted this ordeal is horrific.
For her family and friends this is a nightmare. For her daughter
this is a devastating blow that likely damages her future in many

I miss her so very much and cannot see her incarceration as justice.
She lived an exemplary life in Olympia which I truly believe is the
real Mechele. I cannot find in my heart, mind or soul that Mechele
is someone that is capable of the alleged crime. Not once did I see
anything in her that would have ever indicated she was capable of
doing wrong to anyone. It's just, in plain words, not her nature.

I plead with you to allow Mechele to return home to the many family,
friends and community organizations that miss her, need her ready
help, her parenting, and love her. I beg you to please allow her to
return as soon as possible.


Kristina Hermach

Monday, July 21, 2008

Francis' Sentencing Letter

Dear Judge Volland:

I am writing to request your mercy when you impose on Mechele Linehan her sentence. Please do what you can to help grant the request of her defense attorneys for a panel of judges to give her only five years.

Although I do not know Mechele Linehan, the jury’s verdict was shocking after the prosecution presented a weak case consisting of no substantive evidence. A verdict based on logic and rational analysis of the presented evidence—as opposed to emotional biases—could be only an acquittal. The prosecution’s case fell far short of the legal standard for “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”; the jury erred, pure and simple.

Just as disturbing is the prosecution’s request for a 99-year sentence. Mrs. Linehan’s conviction was not for actually killing Kent Leppink, yet the prosecution has requested the same sentence. Apparently, the prosecution is not satisfied to win the case on next to no evidence, but desires also to permanently end Ms. Linehan’s life as she knew it, and to prevent her from ever returning to her husband and child. Frankly, I am appalled at the cruel ruthlessness exhibited by our prosecutor’s office.

Please hold our system accountable and do what you can to correct the inappropriate and tragic decision of the jury by granting the defense request.


Francis Sheridan

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Barbara's Sentencing Letter

Dear Judge Volland:

As a citizen of Alaska, I am writing to plead for the exercise of wisdom and the fullest degree of legally allowable leniency when you carry out the heavy burden of issuing sentence on Ms. Mechele Linehan.

I am not a friend or relative of Ms. Linehan, nor do I know anyone associated with her. However, as an American citizen, I am horror-struck by the verdict rendered against Ms. Linehan. Furthermore, our prosecutor’s office bringing this case to trial without any bona fide evidence of substance is in itself frightening. It chills me to the bone to know authorities will take a citizen’s freedom, thereby destroying not only that individual’s life but also the lives of his or her extended family, based on nothing but misogynist conjecture by less-than-professional investigators, and the stubborn insistence of a prosecutor’s office using only said conjecture as evidence against the accused.

Thus, I ask that you consider the following before reaching your decision:

1) Throughout Mr. John Carlin’s trial, the Alaskan media focused a sensationalized spotlight on Mechele Linehan to such an extent that one would have thought it was she on trial rather than Mr. Carlin. In our sparsely populated state where over 50 percent of the population lives in South Central Alaska, the steady diet of scandalous Mechele Linehan stories many weeks before she stood trial, together with the subsequent incessant tabloidesque media treatment of her trial, seriously compromised Mechele Linehan’s opportunity to receive a fair jury trial in Alaska.

In particular, the Anchorage Daily News (ADN), the only large newspaper in the state, published ongoing salacious coverage of Ms. Linehan. The ADN published continual story-telling style reports chockfull full of sordid descriptions, gossip, and “factoids” that were in reality only unsubstantiated claims by the prosecution. For example, one report described the stripper coming home with her hundreds of dollars in tips carried in a purple Crown Royal bag and dumping them out on the table, insinuating triumphant glee. During my youth, I worked as a waitress, and like most people who work for tips, I dumped my tips on the dining table to count them. ADN reports continually referred to both Kent Leppink and John Carlin as Ms. Linehan’s “fiancé,” yet there is no evidence supporting their claim of her engagement to multiple men at the same time. Describing Ms. Linehan’s life in Washington State, the ADN implied that working as a young stripper and living as a “cookie baking mom” are mutually exclusive roles, as well as conjuring images of opposing value-laden stereotypes: the brazenly immoral “whore” versus the sugary good “Madonna.” Reporter Megan Holland referred to Ms. Linehan’s life in Olympia as, “the image created by the wife and mother who lived there.” The terms “image” and “created” insinuate a deceptive facade. The State Troopers’ descriptions of Ms. Linehan as “greedy” and “manipulative” were printed and reprinted. Those are only a few examples of many such references.

As for the ADN editors’ decisions, one was hard-pressed to find a headline that did not refer to Ms. Linehan as an “ex-stripper,” “exotic dancer,” “femme fatal,” and/or containing language with dark or dangerous connotations, such as “evil.” Only Ms. Linehan inspired such misogynist, salacious headlines and coverage.

2) There are numerous illogical leaps of logic in the State Troopers’ theorizing, all of which lack the support of substantiated research on human behavior. In addition, there are giant holes in the prosecution’s case, with the evidence actually consisting of little more than the puritanically fantastical conjectures of the investigators.

A) Forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Mills, testified that Ms. Linehan’s personality makes her an unlikely co-conspirator in murder. Yet the jury chose to accept the speculative story of a Lolita with so much sexual power over men that she could convince two almost middle-aged men to do her bidding no matter how “evil.”

B) At the time of the murder, Mechele Linehan was only 23-years-old. Kent Leppink was 36-years-old and John Carlin was 39-years-old. What psychology and human development training did our State Troopers obtain that supported their hypothesis that a 23-year-old was as responsible, if not more so, than the men old enough to have been able to father her? What training did they receive that provided the foundation for hypothesizing that a 23-year-old was capable of such power and fully responsible for it, while the older men over whom she ruled were helpless?

C) John Carlin’s son testified that he saw his father and Ms. Linehan washing a gun. Were they both washing the gun? Were they holding it, jointly, four hands on the gun washing it; or was one washing it while the other watched and they were talking? What were they saying to each other? Being in the room with someone, watching them and talking to them, is not the same thing as actively participating. Yet, the testimony was presented as though it is the same thing. Housemates discussing what happened to a third housemate, even as one, guilty or innocent, freaks out and cleans his gun out of fear, are entirely within the realm of expected and reasonable behaviors for most people. Fearing a housemate may have committed murder or not knowing who did it and so feeling frightened, would both be logical reasons to pack one’s bags and move out of state. That scenario is much more reasonable and common than the one presented by the State Troopers and the prosecution, especially without any substantive evidence to the contrary. Additionally, memory researchers have proven that the most unreliable evidence in criminal trials is eyewitness testimony.

D) The prosecution claimed that Ms. Linehan receiving expensive gifts from Mr. Leppink was evidence of a serious romantic relationship between the two of them. To the contrary, unless there is actual evidence of such a relationship, it was only evidence that Leppink was a troubled man. Many a young woman has enjoyed what she thought was a nice friendship with someone who had her best interest at heart, only to discover too late that there are strings attached; the man wants much more and will not accept no for an answer.

On her own and traveling far from home at a young age, Ms. Linehan worked to save money for college. Nothing about her story is unusual or especially predatory for a young woman in her position. Young women—especially the most attractive—on their own without the protection of nearby family are always targets for predatory men, including needy, mentally unstable men. Older emotionally troubled men, in particular, make a practice of showering gifts on young women they desire. Unlike older men who do the same but stop when they do not get the hoped for response, emotionally troubled men tend not to stop regardless of the response they receive. A young woman does not have to ask for gifts, and in fact, once the realization comes that something is not quite right about the man and the situation, they usually prefer that the gift giving stop because it is uncomfortable. Nevertheless, a young woman’s lack of enthusiasm rarely discourages such a man because he is a lonely obsessive who is convinced that if he showers her with gifts to prove his devotion, she will grow to love him.

In the case of troubled, lonely, obsessive men, fantasizing a nonexistent intimate relationship is also common. Such mentally ill men can believe a young woman already loves him but she is keeping him at a distance either only because she is upset with him or because she is cheating on him. That last scenario makes him dangerous. Such experiences teach young women to be more careful and to recognize that too much out of proportion generosity is a warning flag. That knowledge, however, is not something we are born knowing. We learn it through experience.

E) The prosecution claimed there was something predatory about Ms. Linehan living in a group home with multiple male housemates; that her living situation meant she was romantically involved with said men. Yet, millions of young women, (including me, and later my daughter), have or do live in group homes with men, sometimes as the only women, with no romantic or sexual relationships. Many people under the age of 60 have lived in such homes because when social mores changed, multi-gender group homes became entirely common as a way to save money.

Furthermore, the prosecution (and therefore, the ADN) claimed Ms. Linehan was engaged to both men. Yet Ms. Linehan was openly involved with Scott Hilke, who actually visited her in that same group home before the events that led to Mr. Leppink’s death. That she was seriously engaged to Mr. Leppink at the same time she had Mr. Hilke visit her in their home is illogical. Further, the prosecution claimed she was also engaged to Mr. Carlin, yet Mr. Carlin admitted to sending Mr. Leppink on a goose chase to prevent him from following Ms. Linehan to California, where she was meeting Mr. Hilke. It makes no sense that as her fiancé, Mr. Carlin would help her visit another lover.

F) The prosecution claimed Ms. Linehan used Kent Leppink and John Carlin for their money—that she was a gold-digger. Yet, Ms. Linehan saved her dancing tips until she had enough to pay for her college tuition; she then quit dancing and attended school. If she was using these men, and they would do absolutely anything she asked of them, why were they not paying her tuition? Why did she not quit dancing sooner and attend school on their dime?

G) The prosecution claimed that Mr. Carlin and Ms. Linehan conspired to kill Mr. Leppink in order to receive a $1,000,000 insurance policy. However, at the time Mr. Carlin was a millionaire, hence he did not need the insurance policy, and if the prosecution is correct about Ms. Linehan’s magical powers of seduction, then she did not need an insurance policy to get her hands on Mr. Carlin’s money. In addition, the insurance company’s agent testified that Ms. Linehan tried to cancel the policy before Mr. Leppink’s death. That is evidence in her favor, while the prosecution has no evidence to support their claim that she did so merely as a ruse to cover her tracks.

H) The prosecution painted Kent Leppink as a tragic victim at the hands of a heartless seductress. His family, especially his mother, weighed in on how Ms. Linehan destroyed them, their son, and how evil she is. However, the truth was that Kent Leppink was in Alaska after banishment from his own family because he embezzled from their family business. What more might a person who will embezzle from his or her own family do? Furthermore, how much stock can one put in the testimony of people who purposely banished their son and brother because they believed him to be a thief, a liar, and a con, but then after he dies leaving those same relatives $1,000,000, they paint themselves as horribly wronged and their relationship to the deceased as so significant? How are they more believable than is Mechele Linehan?

I) Mechele Linehan’s sister claims Ms. Linehan asked her to destroy the emails on her computer. By itself, without any other solid evidence to lend credence to the prosecution’s claims, that means nothing. In order to protect our privacy, millions of people wisely destroy emails and records on our computers before moving them, turning them over to other people, or giving them away. Also, anyone with any sense who intended to escape an ugly situation of which we were afraid, were too young too handle, or that could be misconstrued to damage us, would try to erase any trace of a connection between us and what we feared, and we would do so quite innocently. Most especially, a young person would impulsively do so.

J) Regarding the emails presented as evidence: Unless the jury read the entire correspondences, they read or heard them out of context. Any correspondence taken out of context can easily mislead.

K) The reported comments made by Mechele Linehan as to it being too bad Mr. Leppink was not tortured first, as he tortured animals he hunted, while (if she did actually say it) was a harsh and thoughtless thing to say, it does not mean she conspired to have him killed. Rather, it is typical of the sort of judgmental statement a young person hounded by the victim and who disapproved of his hunting activity would say. I know from my formal studies in human development that twenty-three-year-olds do not yet have the experience and understanding of their own mortality to grasp the depth and thoughtlessness of such a judgmental statement.

L) Although there is no concrete evidence supporting the prosecution’s contention that Ms. Linehan deceived Mr. Leppink for money, investigators did find physical evidence of Mr. Leppink’s stalking her and stealing items belonging to both Ms. Linehan and Mr. Hilke.

When one understands the psychology of human behavior, the pieces of the puzzle as presented by the prosecution do not fit their conclusion. It is erroneous to apply developmentally appropriate logic to a disturbed man, but not to the young woman with whom he is obsessed. First, it is no accident that these sorts of unhealthy relationships exist between older men and young women alone on their own. Young women with families and protectors are not vulnerable to offers to be taken care of. Second, in exchange for her mere presence, it is common for a disturbed man to promise a young woman the moon without the demands of a sexual relationship. That is even more likely if he suffers from any sexual confusion.

It is also likely that as his deeper mental problems gradually emerged, a developmentally normal young woman would consider such a man comical, then pathetic, and as his odd behavior worsened into bizarre, grow weary and even frightened of his invasive stalking. Finally, such a man committing suicide in some way fits a psychological profile. If in his delusional state, he believed he was losing his imagined deep love relationship and/or the young woman might expose a dark secret of his, his actions would be bizarre, not hers. Therefore, none of that is evidence against Ms. Linehan. Instead, such delusional self-destructive behaviors common in these sorts of complicated relationships support Ms. Linehan’s defense.

3) Juror, Christine Eagleson, speaking of Ms. Linehan’s history as a dancer, stated to the press, “that all goes into the factor of manipulation and seduction," "That was a whole key point that we discussed on and on and on.” A second reason jurors said they voted to convict was that some of them did not like the dirty looks she gave another ex-dancer testifying against her. Finally, the jury accepted the prosecution’s interpretation of out of context emails while ignoring the more concrete evidence in Ms. Linehan’s favor. Those are not “beyond a reasonable doubt” reasons to convict someone!

Judge Volland, like Ms. Linehan, I was on my own at a young age, making my way in life and improving my circumstances. Further, like Ms. Linehan and all young women in that position, I met and even sometimes developed friendships with people (usually older) who proved to be unethical, unstable, or even dangerous. When I felt frightened by what I discovered or what they were trying to lure or pressure me into, I would up and quietly take off so that I was no longer associated with them. Given I grew up to be a relatively boring, middle-class mother and wife never in trouble with the law, it appears I was more fortunate than Mechele Linehan. However, I credit only luck and fear for my more fortunate outcome, because as a young woman on my own in the world, I crossed paths with numerous predatory and even mentally unhinged people, almost all of whom were older men.

In addition, I lived in Alaska when I was young, celebrating my 20th birthday in Kodiak, Alaska. Although, due to shyness, I never took a job as a dancer, I remember Alaska businesses promising big money while requiring no previous experience (which intentionally targets the young), advertising for dancers in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Hence, Alaskans actively sought young women to move here and work as exotic dancers, but a jury of Alaskans (ten of the twelve, women) held it against Ms. Linehan. The jury viewed 35-year-old Mechele Linehan as immoral to the point of conspiring to commit murder because at the age of 21, she took Alaskans up on their job offer as a means to save money for college.

Moreover, while living in Alaska, I did not meet one other young woman who did not quickly either have a “boyfriend” she lived with (and that included me), or lived in a group home that had male friends in it. All the young women I knew did so for protection. There were (and there are still) varieties of odd characters living in Alaska both permanently and temporarily. Hunted and hounded by all kinds of men, pretty girls in Alaska were much too vulnerable to live alone for long. That did not mean we were predatory; the men with whom we lived understood the situation because most of us were temporary residents—our situation in Alaska was merely an adventure. That was an integral part of the culture in Alaska then, especially in the winter when there were fewer young women here. Thus, Mechele Linehan’s lifestyle in Anchorage did not, and does not, warrant unbridled suspicion.

Regardless of what really did happen between these individuals, and in light of the unspeakable grief Mechele Linehan’s husband and child are experiencing, to convict a person on so little and for a crime they supposedly committed in their youth is a travesty. To impose a life sentence on the premise that, without committing the murder himself or herself, a person barely out of adolescence convinced another and much older person to do so is horrifying. The thought that our court system would impose a life sentence on a person for a crime that without more actual evidence looks like nothing but the hostile imaginations of the investigators, is terrifying. To do so would not serve justice as our Founders intended it in this nation.

Therefore, as a citizen of this state and our country, I ask that for our justice system and for the protection of our citizens, you grant the defense’s request and allow for the most lenient sentencing arrangement available to you.

Thank you for reading this letter and for your consideration of this matter.


Barbara Sheridan