The 15-year legal odyssey that has surrounded the death of Alaskan fisherman Kent Leppink and the prosecution of his ex-stripper fiance Mechele Linehan has finally come to an end (we think).
Linehan, a 39-year-old Olympia woman and ex stripper, had been tried and convicted in 2007 of murdering Leppink for insurance money, but was released in 2010 after her conviction was overturned on appeal.
After Linehan's release state prosecutors tried to prosecute her again, but today Anchorage Superior Court Judge Philip Volland dismissed the state's charges against the woman for essentially the same reason that her conviction was overturned in the first place.
But Judge Philip Volland dismissed the indictment Tuesday based on evidence presented to the grand jury, specifically, a letter from Leppink to his parents implicating Linehan, according to state prosecutor Paul Miovas.
The letter that Judge Volland is referring to is one supposedly written by Leppink just days before he died, in which he warns his parents that Linehan is plotting to kill him and to make sure she gets prosecuted if she succeeds.
This "letter from the grave" was read to a grand jury prior to Linehan's original trial, but was ruled hearsay later and was cited as having "corrupted" the jury in the ruling that freed the woman.
Somehow undeterred by this previous ruling, Alaska prosecutors had once again attempted to introduce the letter in the new trial only to be told that they can't because (remember, dummies?) it's hearsay.
"The Court of Appeals repeatedly stated that the 'letter from the grave' 'appreciably affected' the jury's verdict at Linehan's trial," Volland wrote. "If it did so at a trial where the evidence was contested, defense counsel present, and the jury given an even stronger limiting instruction on the use of the letter, this court cannot find that Betsy Leppink's repetition of Kent Leppink's accusatory statement in the letter was not a decisive factor in the grand jury's decision to indict."