The Missouri woman convicted of murdering her snake-breeder husband received a 16-year sentence on Monday. As far as Missouri authorities are concerned, jurors saw through 33-year-old Lynlee Renick‘s emotional testimony. Judge Kevin Crane expressed no sympathy for her when following the jury’s recommended punishment because she had Ben Renick, 29, killed.
The judge pointed out she would get to have a life outside prison after her prison term, and he suggested that he disagreed with the verdict for second-degree murder instead of first degree. If it were not for her, her husband would still be alive, he said. Her ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey, who was previously convicted of first-degree murder and got a deal for second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against defendant Renick, may have been the gunman, but Lynlee put him up to it.
“You’re awful lucky, ma’am. You’re going to get out in your 40s. And my 40s weren’t too bad,” the gray-haired Crane said. “I just hope you don’t kill again.”
He then ended the hearing curtly.
“That’s it,” he said.
Prosecutors said she roped Humphrey and some of her friends into the plot, telling them that Ben abused her. She and co-worker Ashley Shaw first tried to kill Ben using a protein shake laced with Percocet, but it just made him sick. Ultimately, Humphrey shot the victim to death at the slain man’s snake breeding facility on June 8, 2017 in Boone County.
Though she denied allegations of wrongdoing from the stand, she did testify last month that her husband mistreated her, claiming that he raped her in her sleep and pushed her to the refrigerator during an argument.
Ben’s brother Sam Renick has denied the abuse claims. He said in a victim impact statement on Monday that his former sister-in-law laid out a “web of lies” to cover up the truth of the murder. Lynlee had Ben killed over money, he said. She even led Sam to the body as the new, apparently grieving widow.
“She let me directly to my brother’s body, and then put on a show, an act, a display that will forever haunt me for the rest of my days, yelling ‘why,’ ‘how,’ pretending to me that she did not know what she had done to this beautiful young man,” he said.
Lynlee Renick had appeared distraught when testifying that she overheard Humphrey kill her husband, but prosecutor Kevin Zoellner pressed her on her character.
“Do you know what kind of cold heart lies within you?” he asked her in cross-examination. The judge sustained the objection after the defense complained about relevance. The state obtained a second-degree murder conviction and another for armed criminal action, though both fell short of first-degree murder as charged.
Defense attorney Timothy Hesemann asked for a total of 13 years in prison, for both the murder count and the armed criminal action. Since jurors did not state whether they wanted the charges to run consecutively or concurrently, Hesemann suggested the judge could even go down to 10 years: the mandatory minimum on the murder count. Explaining a rationale for leniency, Hesemen said that by finding defendant Renick guilty of second-degree murder, jurors did not determine that she acted with premeditation.
Despite the guilty verdicts, Sam called the acquittal on the top count an injustice in his statement. He detailed the harm this murder did to the family, with the Renicks being denied access to the children Ben shared with Lynlee. He said that the kids were told Lynlee’s lies about what happened.
“To this day, I truly believe that Lynlee Renick was the one that pulled the trigger, unloading eight bullets into the back of my brother, Benjamin Renick, and I believe that evidence strongly supports that,” he said.
Hesemann, the defense attorney, argued that the judge should show some leniency to his client because other people accused of plotting the murder either got lesser punishments (as in the case of Humphrey) or no punishment at all (as in the case of Shaw).
The argument did not move Crane, who had the punishments for both counts run consecutively.
[Screenshot of Renick responding to her guilty verdict on Dec. 9, 2021 via Law&Crime Network]
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