Hollywood film 'inspired stripper's murder plot'

A stripper who manipulated a lover into murdering her fiancé was simply following the plot of a Hollywood thriller with which she was fixated, a court has heard.

Prosecutors in the trial of Mechele Linehan in Anchorage, Alaska, say The Last Seduction and its scheming leading lady are so crucial to their case that they want the jury to watch the entire film.

The critically acclaimed 1994 film starred Linda Fiorentino as a hard-bitten New Yorker who flees to a small town after stealing her drug-dealing husband's money.

She finds a naive boyfriend and persuades him to try to murder her husband after she lies about being assaulted by him. She later frames him for the crime while she gets away with the loot.

John Carlin was convicted in April of killing Kent Leppink, a fisherman to whom Linehan was engaged, in 1996.

Prosecutors say Linehan, who denies murdering Mr Leppink, masterminded the killing and then persuaded Carlin, a former Marine, to "do the dirty work".

Linehan, 34, wanted to benefit from Leppink's life insurance policy which was worth £500,000. She was unaware he had secretly removed her as beneficiary five days before he was shot dead, the court heard.

Lora Aspiotis, a friend of Linehan and fellow stripper at the Great Alaskan Bush Company club, told jurors that they went to see The Last Seduction together a few months before Leppink's death.

Linehan was deeply impressed by Fiorentino's tough-talking character, said Miss Aspiotis.

"She told me that the character was her heroine and that she wanted to be just like her," she told the court.

Pat Gullufsen, prosecuting, said: "The seed is planted. There is someone she admires, wants to be like and the wheels start turning — she can apply that plan to her circumstances."

Linehan, whose lawyers say Carlin acted alone, wants the ending of the film to match the ending of her trial, too, Mr Gullufsen added.

"The ending, in her plan, is the boyfriend is the one convicted and she walks free," he said.

Kevin Fitzgerald, defending, admitted he had been "a little too preoccupied to sit down with a bowl of popcorn and view that movie". But he claimed the film might prejudice and confuse the jury.

Judge Philip Volland said he had not seen the film either and would watch it before deciding whether to show it to the jury.

Linehan, now married to a doctor and bearing more than a passing resemblance to Miss Fiorentino, denies murder.

Scott Hilke, another former fiancé of Linehan, told the trial that she had told him many disparaging things about Leppink shortly before he was killed. Prosecutors said she was lying.

Miss Fiorentino, whose Oscar nomination for the film was discounted on a technicality, said she was "horrified" that her film had been "dragged into a gruesome murder trial".

She told the New York Post: "Isn't it unbelievable? I'm a little shaken up by it."

from: telegraph.co.uk