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Woman Convicted Of Killing Snake Breeder Files Civil Defamation Suit Against Accuser

Lynlee Renick, 33, accused ex-boyfriend Brandon Blackwell of “maliciously” misleading investigators, and says his false statements ultimately led to her arrest and conviction. 

By Dorian Geiger
Lynlee Renick Pd

A woman convicted in the killing of her reptile dealer husband has filed a civil defamation lawsuit against the man who tipped police off.

Lynlee Renick, 33, was found guilty last month in the fatal 2017 shooting of her husband, Benjamin Renick, who was gunned down at his snake farm. She was subsequently sentenced to 16 years behind bars, online court records show. 

On Jan. 15, she filed a lawsuit from prison alleging that her ex-boyfriend, Brandon Blackwell, lied to police regarding her role in her spouse’s slaying. The convicted Missouri woman claimed Blackwell made a series of erroneous statements to investigators prior to her trial, which she argued, ultimately led to her conviction.

“The statements made by Defendant were known to Defendant to be false and were made without justification or cause and were made maliciously for the purpose of causing injury to Plaintiff’s reputation and subjecting her to arrest, incarceration, criminal prosecution and loss of custody of the child Plaintiff and Defendant have in common,” the case’s petition, which Oxygen.com obtained, stated.

“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s false and defamatory statements, the reputation of Plaintiff has been damaged, and she was subjected to prosecution.”

The suit points to oral and written statements Blackwell made to law enforcement between Jan. 14 and 16, 2020 accusing Renick in her husband’s killing. 

Blackwell’s statements, Renick said, “deprived [her] of the love, comfort, affection, and companionship of her three children,” as well as “the right to work, employment, and financial security.” 

"His statements were never subjected to jury or judicial scrutiny," Connie Sullivan, Renick's attorney, told Oxygen.com on Friday afternoon. "This is an attempt to hold him accountable."

Renick is seeking damages in excess of $25,000 related to punitive damages and court costs tied to Blackwell’s alleged false statements.

Renick and Blackwell, who reportedly had an affair prior to her husband’s murder, had a child together after he died. He was ordered to pay Renick $760 in child support in 2019, additional court records show. 

Renick thereafter obtained a protection order against Blackwell, who she'd accused of stalking her, according to the case's petition obtained by Oxygen.com. (The order expired on Oct. 22, 2021, court filings show.)

Blackwell told the Missouri State Highway Patrol in 2019 that Renick had confessed to the murder, the Columbia Missourian reported; he was in jail at the time for violating the protective order barring contact with Renick. Last November, Renick's attorneys petitioned the judge to bar him from testifying at her trial, according to Fox 22.

Lynlee Renick Ap

Attorney information wasn’t immediately available for Blackwell on Friday.

During Renick’s trial, Prosecutor Kevin Zoellner described her as having a "cold heart," and painted her as the architect of a meticulously planned out plot to kill her husband.

Prosecutors said Renick had first tried poisoning her spouse's protein shake with Percocet, KOMU-TV reported, but he only got violently ill from the concoction. It was later disclosed she allegedly convinced Michael Humphrey, another ex-boyfriend, to help her carry out her husband's killing. Renick testified during trial, however, that Humphrey had shot and killed Benjiman Renick on his own. 

Humphrey was convicted of first degree murder at a separate trial in October and was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the killing, according to additional legal documents; he testified against Renick at her trial in exchange for a conviction reduction to second degree murder. Both he and a former employee of Lynlee Renick, Ashley Shaw — who admitted providing the Percocet and helping to further the plot — accused Lynlee Renick of being the sole shooter.

Renick's defense attorney, Tim Heseman, however argued that she'd been become a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her late husband and stated that his client shot Benjamin Renick after confronting him about a divorce at the snake breeding facility.

Renick is currently incarcerated at a state correctional center in Vandalia, Missouri, according to online jail records.