ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Court of Appeals has overturned the murder conviction of man charged with killing his romantic rival at the urging of the woman they both hoped to marry.
The court on Wednesday reversed the murder conviction for John Carlin III, who was convicted in 2006 of killing Kent Leppink on an isolated trail about in a small community south of Anchorage 10 years earlier. The case went unsolved until Alaska State Troopers reopened it in 2004.
Prosecutors had claimed he was coaxed into killing Leppink by the woman at the center of the romantic triangle, Mechele Linehan, an exotic dancer who lived with the two men in Anchorage.
Prosecutors maintained she was inspired by the 1994 movie, "The Last Seduction," in which a femme fatale coaxes her lover into killing her husband for money.
But just as the court did when overturning Linehan's conviction in 2010, the court ruled the state improperly introduced a letter from the grave during the Carlin's trial.
Before his death, Leppink wrote his parents saying that if he died under unusual circumstances, Carlin and Linehan would likely be responsible.
"We conclude that it was improper for the trial court to allow the state to introduce this letter, and we further conclude that the introduction of this evidence appreciably affected the jury's verdict," the court opinion says.
A message left after hours by The Associated Press with the state attorney general's office was not immediately answered.
"We are disappointed in the result," Eric Ringsmuth with the state Office of Special Prosecutions told KTUU, which first reported the court decision.
Carlin was beaten to death in prison in 2008 shortly after he arrived at the state facility in Seward to serve a 99-year sentence. His estate filed the appeal. Attempts to reach their attorneys weren't immediately successful Wednesday evening.