Judge rejects Linehan bail offer

Megan Holland

A Superior Court judge on Friday turned down a request from a strip club and hotel owner to put up some of his property as bail to free accused killer Mechele Linehan.

Judge Philip Volland, in an order issued Friday afternoon, denied the offer from Terry Stahlman to put up his Big Timber Motel as assurance that Linehan wouldn't flee. Volland didn't elaborate on his reasoning in the one-sentence order.

Stahlman said earlier this week that he and his 17-year-old son, Kameron, who is supposed to inherit the hotel when he turns 18 next month, decided to get involved in the Linehan case because they feel the justice system failed her.

Linehan remains confined at Hiland Mountain, the state's prison for women. She was convicted in the 1996 slaying of Kent Leppink but the conviction was overturned in February by the Alaska Court of Appeals. Volland ruled late last month that she could go free on bail while awaiting retrial. The judge set bail at $250,000.

Prosecutor Pat Gullufsen, after saying he wouldn't oppose Stahlman putting up the property, decided in the end to object. "If she has no skin in the game, what's the risk to her?" he said in a phone interview.

In a response to the court submitted hours before Volland's decision, he wrote, "Stahlman, the owner of the property, has no authority to insure Linehan's appearances."

Gullufsen also said the property proposal would put a complicated logistical burden on the court of having to deal with selling property or getting money out of it should Linehan run.

Volland also ruled Friday that Linehan is eligible for a public defender. John Cashion of the Public Defender Agency confirmed he has been assigned to the case but said the agency is still doing a conflict-of-interest check to see if it can represent her. The agency briefly handled the case of Linehan's co-defendant, John Carlin. Because Carlin was killed in prison before his appeal could be heard, his guilty verdict has also been thrown out.

Linehan's husband, Colin, said the family would continue to work on options for getting Linehan out on bail as soon as possible.

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