Trial underway for wife in death of Missouri snake breeder

December 6, 2021 GMT
Timothy Hesemann, left, and Lynlee Renick, center, sit for the first day of trial at the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Mo., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. Renick and ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey are charged with carrying out the murder of Benjamin Renick. (Ciara McCaskill/Missourian via AP, Pool)
Timothy Hesemann, left, and Lynlee Renick, center, sit for the first day of trial at the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Mo., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. Renick and ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey are charged with carrying out the murder of Benjamin Renick. (Ciara McCaskill/Missourian via AP, Pool)
Timothy Hesemann, left, and Lynlee Renick, center, sit for the first day of trial at the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Mo., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. Renick and ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey are charged with carrying out the murder of Benjamin Renick. (Ciara McCaskill/Missourian via AP, Pool)
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Timothy Hesemann, left, and Lynlee Renick, center, sit for the first day of trial at the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Mo., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. Renick and ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey are charged with carrying out the murder of Benjamin Renick. (Ciara McCaskill/Missourian via AP, Pool)
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Timothy Hesemann, left, and Lynlee Renick, center, sit for the first day of trial at the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Mo., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. Renick and ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey are charged with carrying out the murder of Benjamin Renick. (Ciara McCaskill/Missourian via AP, Pool)

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman shot and killed her husband at his snake breeding business because she was the beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy, which would have helped her financially struggling spa business, a prosecutor said Monday.

Lynlee Renick is on trial for first-degree murder in the June 8, 2017 death of her husband, Ben Renick. Prosecutors and the defense gave their opening statements on Monday.

She initially told police that her husband was crushed to death by one of his snakes at his breeding and sales business in New Florence, according to authorities.

After shell casings were found at the scene, investigators believed an intruder killed Ben Renick. His wife was not charged until January 2020 after an ex-boyfriend reported to authorities that she had killed her husband.

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Defense attorney Tim Hesemann argued Monday that another of Lynlee’s Renick’s ex-boyfriends, Michael Humphrey, was responsible for Ben Renick’s death. He acknowledged Lynlee Renick was with Humphrey on the night of the killing but said she was not present when her husband was shot, KMIZ-TV reported.

Hesemann said on June 8, 2017, Lynlee Renick and Humphrey went to the snake farm to talk to Ben Renick about divorcing his wife. He said Lynlee Renick heard several shots as she was taking out the trash, KOMU reported.

Humphrey was convicted of first-degree murder in October. In a deal with prosecutors, the sentence will be reduced after he testifies against Lynlee Renick. He also led investigators to the weapon used in the killing.

Prosecutor Kelly King said in her opening statement that Lynlee Renick and Ashley Shaw, an employee at her spa, enlisted Humphrey to help with the killing.

King said Lynlee Renick didn’t want to divorce her husband because she thought he would take the couple’s children and because she was the sole beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy.

At the time he was killed, Ben Renick was in the process of selling his snake breeding business for an estimated $1.2 million.

Shaw testified Monday that she was aware of problems in the Renicks’ marriage and that the spa was in financial trouble. She said Lynlee Renick said divorce was not an option and asked her to help murder her husband.

Shaw said she provided Percocet that Lynlee Renick put in a milkshake and gave to her husband in a first attempt to kill him. After that failed, the two women enlisted Humphrey to help with the killing, she said.

Shaw reached a deal with prosecutors and was not charged in the murder.