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opening statements

A twisted love story of passion and greed ending in murder almost 11 years ago is now capturing national attention.

Monday was day one of the John Carlin murder trial. Carlin traveled back to Anchorage from New Jersey last October to turn himself in.

Monday was day one of his trial, in which he is charged with murder in the first degree for the shooting of Kent Leppink in May of 1996 in the small town of Hope.

The story involves a stripper, Mechele Hughes, who is also charged with first-degree murder of Leppink and will be tried in September. Hughes was dating a handful of men at the same time, all of which were romantically interested in her and some even close to marriage. Carlin and Hughes even lived in the same house together.

The prosecution says it's a story of passion, greed, manipulation and deception. The defense says a love triangle is not the correct metaphor for this. It is rather a web of men entangled all around one sneaky woman. It explains that it is quite possible for one of these other men or Hughes to have killed Leppink.

Marcy McDannel, defense attorney, said, “This is a case that frankly cannot be solved and certainly, certainly cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to Mr. Carlin.”

Patrick Gullufsen, prosecution, said, “The evidence isn't going to give you all the answers, but when you've heard it all, you've examined it all, had a chance to explore it with each other there will be no reasonable doubt that John Carlin as an accessory or as a principle was responsible for the murder of Kent Leppink.”

What makes this case so interesting is the victim sent a letter to his parents before his death saying he changed his life insurance policy to only include family, and he probably knew who police should go after for his murder.

Gullufsen, reading a letter from Leppink, said, “Down further in the third page is the reference by Mr. Leppink. ‘Mechele, John and Scott are the people or persons that probably killed me. Make sure they get burned.’”

Mcdannel said, “The evidence is going to show in this case, and this is going to be very clear that Mr. Carlin as a suitor to Mechele Hughes was not at all jealous of Mr. Leppink.”

This case is quickly spreading through the nation because of its unique love ties and Leppink's knowledge of what was going to happen to him before the murder even happened.

The judge expects trial to last two weeks.

The bases of Carlin's charges are these: The prosecution says Carlin may have lured Leppink to the town of Hope through fraudulent notes to lead him to believe Carlin and Hughes were staying there in a cabin.
Carlin also initially lied to investigators about owning a .44-magnum desert eagle, which was the gun used in the murder, and they say that Carlin's son saw a desert eagle in the sink and smelled bleach.

What is so unique about the relationships Hughes had with these men are she was engaged to one while Leppink's parents say they were discussing wedding dates. All but one had enough money to spoil her with diamonds and mink coats. They covered her car payments, house payments, basically anything she needed money for.

One man in Barrow gave her a car and thought he was supporting her solely and that she was going to move up there and marry him while she was living with another man. It's basically a heavy soap opera in Alaska that the court is trying to dissect.
Story Created: Mar 13, 2007 at 2:50 AM AKST
Story Updated: Mar 13, 2007 at 4:55 AM AKST

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