Dear Judge Volland:
My name is Honi Martin. I’m a wife of eleven years to a wonderful man. We are raising our two young boys on a farm in Oregon. I’m active in both of my children’s school and my church. I work with the elderly and people on hospice. I love animals, and I’m an artist.
I also, a very long time ago, was a dancer. I was Mechele Linehan’s friend and roommate. I know the trial is over and unfortunately knew nothing about it until too late. I was in shock to learn Mechele was in prison. Four years ago she told me TT had been murdered, and she was being questioned. Although it was shocking to learn TT had been killed, not for a minute did I believe Mechele had anything to do with it. I knew the right person would be found, and I never thought much more about it.
Mechele and I went on with our lives and along the way had lost contact. I can’t sit by and watch Mechele go to prison without telling you the person I know Mechele to be. Mechele was a bright young girl who was creative, sweet, spontaneous, outgoing and would give you whatever you needed. I met Mechele at work at the Bush Company, and we hit it off almost immediately. I had just broken up with my boyfriend and told her that I was looking for a place to live. Without hesitation, she said I could live with her and that she had a spare bedroom. She hardly knew me, but opened up her home to me.
Mechele had a soft spot for animals and could never pass a stray without bringing it home. On one occasion, she picked up a homeless man who was shivering in the freezing rain. She opened up the door of her car and gave him a ride to a café, so he could get warm. We also lived near an elderly man who had fallen more than a couple of times. Mechele would often go over to his home to make sure he was ok and visit with him. I remember Mechele having many interests and wanting to go to school. One of her interests was working with children in one form or another. She also wanted to write children’s books. She was wonderful with animals and also wanted to do something along these lines. She even had taught reading to adults.
I don’t remember her ever saying she would be rich, but she did know it would take money to go to school. Dancing was a means to that end. She sometimes worked very long hours. Sometimes from when the club opened at 3:30 in the afternoon until 2 am. She was very driven, but also very generous.
While Scott Hilke and Mechele were on vacation, someone had poisoned our dogs. Mine ended up dying. I was so distraught I couldn’t even work. Mechele had me join her and Scott in Canada. She paid for my hotel, food, and plane ticket. She would even buy her “regulars” gifts if she saw something she thought they would like. This is probably what worried me the most. I worried about her safety. She thought I worried too much, and these “men were just harmless and lonely people”.
She did not have “multiple lovers”. She was friendly and let these people into her life too much. But, I never saw her sleep or even heard her talk about sleeping with any of these men.
It’s not in a dancer’s best interest to sleep with her customers. All the girls know that once you do, your customer will no longer spend the kind of money on you as he once did. Men, who become a dancer’s “regular”, often have already been someone else’s “regular” at one time or another. They are not clueless men who get taken for their money. They only feel “burned” after they have bought gifts and spend hundreds if not thousands on a girl, only to realize she is not going to fall in love with him.
Mechele did nothing different than any of the other girls did that had regulars. I’ve even done it. It’s very common if a man has feelings for you that you play along. You don’t discourage him. It’s not the dancer’s fault. She is at the club to work and make money, not to discourage people from spending it. These men willingly spend money and bring or offer you gifts.
There is something wrong with a man who sits night after night in the clubs, hoping to save some damsel from her job.
Some girls like having “regulars”. On a slow night, he’ll come in and spend money on you. On a really busy night, you don’t have to deal with the competition by having a “regular”. Other girls don’t like regulars because it is like a relationship, and they don’t like the element of getting too close to someone who may be potentially dangerous or obsessed.
Towards the end of my living in Alaska, it seemed Scott and Mechele were on the verge of breaking up. I moved out, but stayed in Alaska until about the end of that summer. Scott was the only person that I knew Mechele to have been engaged to. I have never known Mechele to be engaged to anyone but Scott. Never once did I hear her refer to TT as a lover or a fiancé. I also never heard the word engaged attached to him. I never saw Mechele kiss, hug, or even hold his hand. It was by all accounts a friendship, not a relationship, with a customer who spent a lot of money on her.
Mechele is not perfect and she played along with men’s feelings to keep the money coming her way. Just as many of the other dancers do. I just don’t think she realized how deep these men’s feelings ran for her. Mechele’s character is not that of a person who would conspire to commit murder or commit murder herself. She wanted a better life for herself and was willing to work for it.
There are so many more things I could have written about. It’s hard to write a year’s worth of memories in just a few pages. I just want to thank you for time you spent reading it.