Alaska troopers mishandled prison death probe

Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ANCHORAGE - Alaska state troopers say they mishandled the investigation of a 2008 beating death at the Spring Creek Correctional Center.

"We are trying to find out why we dropped the ball on it," Col. Audie Holloway told The Anchorage Daily News. "It's unacceptable that this thing has taken this long." He says investigators are now moving forward and expect charges.

The 51-year-old John Carlin was attacked by other inmates just months after arriving at the Seward prison to begin serving a 99-year murder sentence.

He was convicted in the 1996 slaying of Kent Leppink. Prosecutors say Mechele Linehan coaxed Carlin to kill Leppink so she could collect on his life insurance. Linehan's conviction was overturned on appeal and she is free on bail awaiting another trial.

Troopers have been saying that Carlin's death is an ongoing investigation and that evidence such as lab results was still being processed.

Holloway says troopers have been waiting on DNA evidence in a backlog at the crime lab.

"For some reason we didn't do that as well in this case, or as well as we should have," he said. "Whether we didn't put enough emphasis on it to the D.A., or the D.A. didn't put enough emphasis on it to the lab."

Carlin's son, John Carlin IV, is suing the state Department of Corrections over the death. "I'm anxiously awaiting justice. I desperately want to finally find out what happened to my father," he said Monday.

The lawsuit says Carlin asked to be separated from the attackers or moved to another prison.

Carlin said he didn't kill Leppink.

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