Inmate says officials didn't protect John Carlin

Lawsuit claims gunman in Linehan murder case beaten in Seward prison

Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009

ANCHORAGE - An inmate has filed court papers that accuse prison officials of failing to protect John Carlin, the gunman in the Mechele Linehan murder case.

Inmate Donald Joseph filed a civil lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections in which he alleges that other prisoners beat the 51-year-old Carlin several times at the Spring Creek prison in Seward. Joseph participated in the first attack.

Carlin, who died after the third attack, was convicted in 2007 of murdering Kent Leppink. Prosecutors said he conspired with Linehan, an exotic dancer at the time, to kill Leppink for a $1 million life insurance policy. Both were sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Alaska State Troopers have not been answering questions about the case. Sgt. Eugene Fowler, reached on Thursday by the Anchorage Daily News, would only say, "We know who we are working for, and we are working for John Carlin. ... That's our job ... We are trying to put this thing together, and it is taking a long time because we are trying to do it the right way."

Department of Corrections paperwork confirmed that Joseph and three other prisoners attacked Carlin in mid-September 2008.

"Prisoner Carlin claimed that he was lying on his bunk ... minding his own business when four prisoners rolled in and beat him up," according to a guard's report. "He told me that they were four big Native guys and the one punching him the most had tattoos across his knuckles."

Joseph was the only prisoner in the housing unit with tattoos on his knuckles, the report said.

Joseph said he was locked up alone for a time as punishment. Carlin was put into protective custody. Carlin had been at the Spring Creek prison about a month when he was attacked.

The second beating took place in a recreational yard, Joseph said. "He was let off (protective custody) and he immediately got his nose broke in a bloody assault that lasted for several minutes," he wrote.

It was after a third beating, on Oct. 27, 2008, that Carlin died.

An affidavit filed by a second prisoner supports Joseph's claim that Carlin tried to get help from prison officials. Donny Grossman wrote that Carlin sent notices to Spring Creek Superintendent John "Craig" Turnbull in late September, and one in early October to two corrections officers, saying he felt his overall safety was in serious jeopardy.

According to Grossman, Carlin said his request to transfer to another prison went unanswered.

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