A Missouri woman accused of shooting her husband at his snake-breeding facility took the stand on Wednesday. She detailed a deteriorating marriage but denied killing the husband or even plotting such a crime. Testimony from Lynlee Renick, 33, clashed with the accounts of Ashley Shaw and Michael Humphrey, who both said Lynlee recruited them to help kill her husband Ben Renick, 29.
Defendant Renick said her husband Ben was abusive. According to her account, her relationship started out great, but her husband was controlling, raped her in her sleep, and once grabbed her by the arm and pushed her to the fridge when she tried to walk away during an argument near their children. One time, Ben angrily watched her dress, she said.
“He told me, ‘I just can’t believe that you didn’t wake up when I was having sex with you last night,'” she said. “It just kind of shocked me. I don’t even think I replied to him. I was just standing there staring at him, and continued getting ready.”
She said she initially believed that she was not just a body to Ben. They did not have a wild sexual relationship or have sex often, but she thought that was healthy. “And that just put me right back to this place of feeling like I was just there for him to have sex with,” the defendant said of her husband’s comment.
She and Ben discussed such incidents on Facebook messenger.
“I’m sorry those nights happened,” Ben wrote in a May 17, 2017 message the defense asked Lynlee Renick to read for the court. “They shouldn’t have. Never will again. I wasn’t mad at you for not having sex with me, but it doesn’t matter because I made you feel that way. I’m sorry.”
SNAKE BREEDER MURDER TRIAL – NEW TRIAL MONDAY. MO v. Lynlee Renick. Renick is charged with killing her husband Ben Renick. Ben was a world-famous snake breeder. This case has a lot of twists and turns and players! Jury is being chosen today from another county. Openings Mon pic.twitter.com/joXlxTtYDu
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) December 3, 2021
According to Shaw, Lynlee told a story of waking up to find Ben raping her. Shaw was a friend who worked for the defendant Renick at a spa business; Shaw dodged a criminal case of her own by striking a deal with prosecutors to testify.
Shaw said that the defendant recruited her to help plan the murder.
“I don’t know,” she said when asked during direct examination why she did it. She said it was the biggest mistake she made in her life.
Renick, however, denied telling Shaw she wanted to murder Ben. She only told her friend about her own martial problems, she said. Renick also denied trying to poison her husband by grinding the drug Percocet and placing it into a protein shake. She said people would bring products to the spa in hopes that the spa would become a distributor and that she actually got sick drinking one of the products.
Employing a common tactic, the defense tried to suggest during cross-examination that Shaw was only testifying against Renick to protect herself from prosecution.
Humphrey, the defendant’s ex-boyfriend, was previously convicted of first-degree murder, but he took a deal for second-degree murder to testify against Renick. Prosecutors have alleged that the defendant and Shaw brought Humphrey in on the purported plot to be the actual gunman, but as the plan evolved, Humphrey instead gave the gun to the defendant, the authorities say.
#SnakeBreederMurderTrial: Michael Humphrey, the ex-boyfriend of Lynlee Renick, testified against her on Monday. Humphrey was convicted in the murder of Ben Renick in October 2021. @LawCrimeNetwork pic.twitter.com/UBpuFU0Cth
— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) December 6, 2021
The defense is trying to show that Humphrey was the actual gunman and that Lynlee Renick was an innocent bystander. Renick said she looked up Humphrey and brought him to the snake facility for safety because she was going to talk to her husband about a divorce. She did not ask other people to be present — especially those who she knew through her husband’s snake business. She said she was outside when she heard gunshots and that Humphrey ran out took her to the car. Renick insisted that she did not tell the police about actually being there because she did not want to believe it, did not want to face it, and because she feared Humphrey might go after her and her children if she spoke out about what she claims to have witnessed. Renick testified that she did not know Humphrey had a gun and did not know he was going to allegedly open fire that day.
Defense lawyer Timothy Hesemann suggested during opening statements that the two men got into a confrontation because the victim husband knew his now-defendant wife was being unfaithful to him with other men — and because Humphrey knew Ben was abusive.
[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]
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