Linehan Indictment Tossed
Judge finds prejudicial evidence led to indictment
Mechele Linehan, the stripper turned soccer mom whose murder conviction was thrown out, now may be one step closer to freedom. This after the state's murder indictment was dismissed Tuesday in Anchorage Superior Court.
It’s all based on a letter written by Linehan's fiancé at the time, Kent Leppink, before he was murdered, that said Linehan along with others were responsible for his death. Judge Philip Volland said the grand jury should have never been heard about the letter because it was hearsay.
For Linehan's family, the judge's decision brings hope she is one step closer to going home. It’s the stack of pages Mechele Linehan's mom says is the light at the end of the tunnel. “Its time to let her go home, she needs to get back to her child and her husband and her family,” said Sandy McWilliams.
Judge Phillip Volland called the state's witness testimony prejudicial because the prosecution allowed the grand jury to hear murdered Kent Leppink's mom speak about a letter he wrote before his death saying if anything happened to him, to take Linehan down. Superior Court Judge Volland agreed with Linehan's attorney that the letter led to the murder indictment.
“We know it’s the right decision legally, its the correct thing for the judge to do,” said Cynthia Strout, who has been representing Linehan. The same evidence was the reason the Alaska Court of Appeals said it overturned Linehan's 2007 murder conviction last year. “The prosecutor used highly prejudicial hearsay, unreliable information to get an indictment the first time around,” said Strout.
It is something the state argued wasn't the same situation the second time in front of the grand jury. State assistant attorney general Paul Miovas said in opposition the only evidence admitted regarding the letter was a reference by Leppink's mom Betsy agreeing that the victim, her son, believed if he was found dead that he believed Linehan along with two others might be involved.
But with that decision now reversed, the ball is now in the state's court. It’s up to the state at this point to decide if they want to attempt to present a second to another grand jury. Linehan's family is optimistic that justice is coming soon, so she can return to her home in Washington State a free woman.
“She is not leaving Anchorage until this thing is cleared up and her name is clear,” Strout said. Now the state is still assessing its options, and while prosecutors won't say exactly what they will do, Assistant Attorney General Paul Miovas told CBS 11 News the bail conditions that were previously set remain in place and Ms. Linehan will have a brief court hearing on January 17, 2012 to address the status of the case.