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Lynlee Renick Convicted of Killing Snake-Breeder Husband After Taking the Stand

Lynlee Renick has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Ben Renick, a well-known snake breeder from Montgomery County in Missouri.

Prosecutors alleged that Renick conspired with a friend and ex-boyfriend to murder her husband in 2017. Renick was the sole beneficiary of a life-insurance policy for her husband worth $1 million. It was alleged that Renick feared losing custody of her children if she and her husband were to get a divorce.

While it’s uncommon for criminal defendants to take the stand, especially in a murder trial, Renick appeared in court last Wednesday eager to tell her side of the story. During her testimony, Renick acknowledged that she did lie about what had happened but that her marriage had recently become physically and emotionally abusive.

In a recent interview on Court TV, Denver defense lawyer Jeffrey Wolf discussed the basics of preparing a client for the difficulties of cross examination.

“The decision is always going to rest with the defendant,” explained Wolf. “As far as preparing, there isn’t a lot you can do to prepare. The best thing you can do is find the meanest lawyer you know to come in and…play the prosecutor. So you do a mock direct and a mock cross, and you just let the lawyer beat up your client as hard as you think the prosecutor’s going to. You see how your client is going to respond, give tips on the emotion…give tips on how to respond, how not to respond—you don’t script what they’re saying but you script how they respond, what the emotional responses are…their body language…because juries are paying as much attention to that as the words that are coming out your mouth.”

The jury deliberated for about 12 hours before returning a guilty verdict the following day. The jury recommended that Renick serve no more than 13 years for second-degree murder and three years for armed criminal action. A hearing in January will finalize the sentences.

Watch the video for details about this case and for more commentary from Denver defense lawyer Jeff Wolf.