ANCHORAGE, Alaska (WOOD) - Authorities in Alaska will not seek a second trial against a woman whose conviction in the murder of a Greenville, Mich. native was overturned, according to reports.
The Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday that Mechele Linehan will remain free. She was convicted in 2007 for conspiring to kill her fiance Kent Leppink in 1996 in hopes of receiving $1 million in life insurance money.
Authorities said Leppink was shot to death by Linehan's former lover, John Carlin III.
Both men thought they were engaged to Linehan, according to prosecutors' version of events.
Linehan was a 23-year-old stripper at the Great Alaskan Bush Company when Leppink was found dead in a wooded area near Hope, Alaska.
She married, had children and moved to Washington by the time she was arrested in 2006.
In 2007, a jury found her guilty of murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Carlin was convicted in a separate trial and also sentenced to 99 years. He was later beaten to death in prison.
Linehan served 2 1/2 years in prison before the Alaska Court of Appeals overturned her conviction in 2010. The court of appeals ruled that the original trial judge wrongly allowed prosecutors to introduce a letter written by Leppink shortly before he died.
Leppink's letter to his parents asserted that Linehan would probably be responsible if he died suspiciously. He urged them to be sure "to take Mechele DOWN. Make sure she is prosecuted."
After the first trial was overturned, prosecutors sought to again try Linehan for murder under the same indictment.
In August 2011, Linehan filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the indictment, saying that the same letter found inadmissible by the appeals court had been presented to the grand jury that indicted her.
In December 2011, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Philip Volland sided with Linehan, granting her motion and dismissing the indictment for first-degree murder, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
At that point, prosecutors were left to decide whether they should attempt to present the case to a grand jury again without the letter, said assistant attorney general Paul Miovas.
They ultimately decided the answer was no, Miovas said.
Another factor, he said, was that some witnesses who were key to the case are now deceased or otherwise unavailable, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
Linehan has been living with her family in Washington since January when a Superior Court judge dismissed bail and court-ordered conditions keeping her in Alaska.
Thirty-three-year-old Ronald T. Smith II was grew up in Warren.
Is tonight the night? Maybe it's tomorrow. Or even Sunday.
Two other people, who were inside the residence at the time, escaped safely.