By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — Renee Bishop-McKean didn’t kill her husband with an electric saw, but on Thursday she was sentenced to 18 years in prison for trying.
Bishop-McKean was convicted last month of attempted first-degree murder in connection with a bizarre attack last year in the Everett home she once shared with her husband and their two children.
A jury was told that Bishop-McKean, 44, first tried to cut off her husband’s head with a Sawzall while he slept. When that didn’t work, she whacked him with a hatchet and finally clobbered him with a three-pound mallet.
The man survived the assault, mainly because of a couple of crucial mistakes on his wife’s part.
Bishop-McKean denied attacking her husband. She blamed an intruder, who she said slipped through an open window.
Her husband was convinced that his wife was behind the attempt on his life. During the police investigation, evidence stacked up that the nighttime ambush wasn’t spontaneous. Detectives discovered that Bishop-McKean recently purchased a new Sawzall, hatchet and mallet and stockpiled bleach, plastic sheeting and several aluminum roasting pans. They also discovered that the window Bishop-McKean claimed the intruder climbed through could only open a couple of inches.
Jurors were told that the couple had been living apart, but on the night of the assault, Bishop-McKean invited her husband back home. She convinced him to park his vehicle around the corner, bring a wet vacuum up from the basement and persuaded him that the strange noise he heard when he settled into bed was from extra blankets, when in fact it was plastic sheeting wrapped around the mattress.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern contended that the Everett woman plotted the murder, even if she made some mistakes carrying out the plan.
Stern on Thursday asked for the 18-year prison term. The defendant faced up to 20 years under the state’s sentencing guidelines. The deputy prosecutor said his recommendation reflected the seriousness of the crime and also gave some protection to the defendant’s young children.
“They’ll be at a sufficient age and maturity to be able to intelligently decide how much they want their mom involved in their lives,” Stern said.
Defense attorney Ken Lee told the judge that his client has suffered some physical ailments and taken medications that perhaps contributed to her behavior and lack of “normal” thinking. He said the trial never uncovered a motive for the attack, which he characterized as a half-hearted attempt at best.
“My sense is that she is not a bad person,” Lee said.
He also argued that there’s no evidence his client is a bad mother or that her children need to be protected from her.
“She misses her children greatly,” Lee said.
Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas supported the prosecutor’s recommendation. The judge said it was clear to him that the defendant made an attempt on her husband’s life. He also said he was convinced that Bishop-McKean suffered from either a “mental disturbance” or “some kind of brain injury.” He pointed to her past conviction about a decade ago. Bishop-McKean was charged with two crimes after she fired a gun inside an apartment in California. She told police that she shot at a wall in an effort to get her husband, then her boyfriend, out of the apartment.
Bishop-McKean didn’t have anything to say to the judge before she was sentenced. She had plenty to say to reporters, though.
“Oh my God, get a life,” she said to a television camera crew when she was led into the courtroom.
As she was walked out, she berated the prosecutor, calling him a liar. She also called the court system a sham.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.