Snake Breeder Murder Trial: Daily Trial Highlights

Posted at 7:00 AM, December 7, 2021 and last updated 8:09 PM, July 13, 2023

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Court TV) — A jury has recommended a sentence of 16 years in prison for a wife convicted of the second-degree murder of her husband, Ben Rennick – a prominent snake breeder beloved by the reptile community. Lynlee Renick mouthed the words “thank you” many times as the judge read the jury’s recommendation aloud to the court.

Prosecutors say Lynlee recruited her ex-boyfriend to help kill Ben. His shooting death went unsolved for more than two years until Lynlee’s lover disclosed her alleged confession to police.


DAY 4 – 12/9/21

DAY 3 – 12/8/21

  • Lynlee Renick takes the stand in her own defense
    • Lynlee told the jury she wanted to divorce Ben, not kill him
    • She testified about 3 affairs while she was married to Ben
    • Lynlee claims Ben was very angry with her one morning because she didn’t wake up one night while he was having sex with her
    • Claims the real impetus for her wanting a divorce is when Ben resented the time she spent with the children; felt she wanted her to choose him over the children
    • Testified she brought MH to the snake facility because she was worried Ben would get physical
    • She testified that she was thinking about how to broach the subject about divorce when she and Humphrey pulled up to the snake facility.  Ben had come outside to throw the trash out. She took the trash and when she went back inside she saw Humphrey pull the gun on Ben, she screamed and ran outside where she heard gunshots.
    • Lynlee says she did not know what happened, she suspected something happened but did not want to believe anything bad happened. She said she was frozen with fear when Humphrey emerged from the snake farm and ordered her to get in the car. She does not recall what was said between them during their 40-50 minute ride back to the spa
    • At the spa, she says Ashley helped her show and clean up but was numb and out of it
    • Lynlee returned to the snake farm after picking up the children from school and realized then that her husband had indeed been shot to death. She was hysterical but told the EMT that ‘a snake could not have done this.’
    • She admitted lying to the police repeatedly over the 6 times she met with them before she was arrested in Jan 2020 – she never told them MH was Ben’s killer, instead she agreed that she tried to throw police off his trail but pointing the finger at Sam Renick, Ben’s brother.
    • She cried as she apologized to Sam Renick, Ben’s brother her who was sitting in the gallery for telling police Sam was a possible suspect in his brother’s death.
    • WATCH: 12/8/21 Defendant Lynlee Renick Describes Events of Husband’s Death
    • WATCH: 12/8/21 Snake Breeder Murder Trial: State Cross-Examines Lynlee Renick
    • WATCH: 12/8/21 Snake Breeder Murder Trial: Lynlee Renick Breaks Down on the Stand
  • The jury hears closing arguments
  • The jury begins their deliberations
    • 12/8/21 Snake Breeder Murder Trial: Jury Begins Deliberating
    • During their first day of deliberations, the jury sent two notes:
      • Jury Questions #1: Is there any evidence that shows Ben’s life insurance has been moved into Ben’s trust if so, when?
      • Jury Question #2: requests texts and messages from 6/8 (state’s timeline) & video from the bank and convenience store that Ashley Shaw & Rachel Hunt claimed they visited on 6/8 to establish an alibi

DAY 2 – 12/7/21

  • The Defense began its case Tuesday by calling a childhood friend, a nurse, and Lynlee’s father to testify that Lynlee was hysterical after discovering her husband’s body, and was an emotional wreck in the days that followed. According to defense witnesses she wouldn’t eat or drink and at one point became so dehydrated that she needed to be hospitalized and given IV fluids.
  • During one particularly awkward and heated exchange, prosecutor Kevin Zoellner asked Lynlee’s father, Lyndall Gallatin, if he thought his daughter was acting when she called him, hysterical upon discovering her husband’s body. In reality, according to her defense attorneys, she was present hours earlier when her husband was being murdered. The question drew heated objections from the defense, before Gallatin finally responded that he had seen his daughter at different times be emotional and composed.
  • After Ben’s murder, Lynlee texted and called Ben expressing her concern when she knew he was dead. Prosecutors contend texts and calls Lynlee made to Ben, feigning concern, were meant to create an alibi for herself.
  • In the hours after Ben’s murder, Lynlee texted and talked to her lover.
  • Shell casings recovered from the crime scene matched the gun Humphrey says Lynlee used to kill her husband.
  • Prosecutors rested after calling the financial advisor who helped Ben and Lynlee with their investments. She testified that Ben took out a $1 million dollar insurance policy on his life making Lynlee his sole beneficiary.
  • Jurors will hear from Lynlee Renick herself when she takes the witness stand in her own defense Wednesday.
  • In response to Judge Crane’s colloquy about her right to testify, Renick said she would not need more time to consult her lawyers and has decided to testify.
    She is expected to refute allegations she shot her husband to death with the help of her ex-boyfriend Michael Humphrey after a failed attempt at trying to poison him to death. She will likely be questioned about her extra-marital affairs — relationships that continued in the months after Ben’s murder.

DAY 1 – 12/6/21

  • Opening statements, each side offers its theory of the Ben Renick’s murder. State says Lynlee Renick was unfaithful and stood to inherit money from his life insurance and sale of snakes. The defense claims she’s being framed by her ex-boyfriend who was the one who actually shot her husband.
  • Ex-lover Aric Bremer said his affair with Lynlee started in 2016 and continued for several months after Ben’s murder. He was one of 2 lovers Lynlee had while she was married to Ben, and with whom she continued to see after Ben’s murder.
  • Convicted co-defendant Michael Humphrey testifies in orange jumpsuit and handcuffs and tells the jury he gave Lynlee the gun she used to kill her husband after he refused to kill Ben for her.
    • Humphrey says he helped Lynlee because she told him her husband was raping her
    • A few days after she visited him he went to the spa for a massage and gave her the gun.
    • He says he accompanied Lynlee to the snake house. He said his role was to make sure things didn’t get out of hand between Lynlee and Ben. He thought she was there to gather clothes because she was leaving him to go live with her father.
    • Humphrey describes what happens when they get to snake house:  Lynlee tells Ben he’s there to see the snakes, he follows Ben to snake house, Lynlee walks past him with the gun. He sees her aim the gun, hears a gunshot (very loud).
  • Alleged co-conspirator Ashley Shaw testifies she helped the defendant attempt to poison her husband by providing the drugs she used to spike his protein drink.
    • Shaw says when the Percocet-laced protein drink failed to kill Ben– Lynlee sought out Humphrey, hoping he would kill Ben or find someone who could do it for her.
    • Shaw says Lynlee told her divorce wasn’t an option because Ben would hire an attorney to take her kids away.
    • Lynlee told her she couldn’t afford the fee that the ‘Mexican mafia’ charged for a hit – and that MH would give her a gun. Both Lynlee and MH went to the snake farm together on June 8. They were gone 2-3 hours. When Lynlee returned she told her she shot her husband in the back
    • Shaw says she helped Lynlee wash up after the murder.
  • Spa employee Rachel Hunt said Lynlee told her on June 8th that she and Michael Humphrey were going to kill Ben.
    • Hunt says Lynlee had become involved with Brandon Blackwell and told her she was in love with him.
  • WATCH: 12/6/21 Snake Breeder Murder Trial: Day 1


Court TV’s Senior Director of Courtroom Coverage Grace Wong contributed to this report.