Son of Alaska inmate beaten to death in prison sues state

Lawsuit says officials failed to protect Carlin

Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010

ANCHORAGE - The son of a man convicted in a 1996 murder is suing the Alaska Department of Corrections over his father's brutal death in prison.

John Carlin III was convicted in 2007 with his former fiancee, Mechele Linehan, in the death of Kent Leppink. Carlin died in late 2008 after being beaten three times by other inmates.

His son, John Carlin IV, alleges in a lawsuit filed in Anchorage Superior Court that prison officials failed to protect him. He is seeking at least $500,000 in damages.

"Due to the repeated nature of the assaults and Carlin's pleas for help, the officers and/or employees and/or agents of defendants knew or should have known of the danger to Carlin's personal safety," the lawsuit said. No inmates were named as defendants.

Corrections department officials declined to comment.

Alaska State Troopers investigated the beating but more than a year has passed and no one has been charged. Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said the case is still being worked. Parts of the investigation, like lab results, have not been completed and are delaying the process.

After the first attack, the elder Carlin was given medical attention, then separated from the other prisoners, according to prison records. When Carlin was released to the general population, inmates beat him again.

Carlin was appealing his conviction when he died, so the Alaska Court of Appeals set aside his conviction though prosecutors have asked the state Supreme Court to reinstate it.

Linehan, a stripper-turned-soccer-mom, was convicted in a separate trial, but the court appeals court overturned that two weeks ago. Prosecutors have until Monday to decide whether to try her again.

Prosecutors say Carlin and Linehan conspired to kill Leppink, a 36-year-old commercial fisherman, for a $1 million life insurance policy payout. Leppink changed the policy before he died, removing Linehan as a beneficiary.

Linehan was arrested in 2006. By that time, she had married a doctor, earned college degrees and moved to Olympia, Wash.

Carlin's son, now 31, is the only surviving heir to his father. He was a key witness for the prosecution in the trials of his father and Linehan, testifing that he saw his father wash a handgun in the days after the murder.

The younger Carlin, though, has said that he doesn't know who killed Leppink and doubts it was his father.

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