Prosecutors allege woman tried to saw off husband’s head

EVERETT — An Everett man’s life likely was spared because of his wife’s choice in saw blades and her instinct to go for his neck, a rather elastic part of the body, a Snohomish County jury was told on Monday.

“It’s a lot harder to kill someone than you think,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said.

It wasn’t a lack of effort or plotting that kept an Everett father alive, Stern told jurors during opening statements in the trial of a woman accused of trying to murder her husband in October.

He said Renee Bishop-McKean first tried to cut off her husband’s head with a Sawzall while he slept. When that didn’t work, she allegedly whacked him with a hatchet and finally clobbered him with a three-pound mallet.

There were just a few crucial missteps that saved the man, Stern said.

Dazed and confused, he was able to summon police and escape out the front door.

His wife told police that she and her husband were both attacked by an intruder who broke into the couple’s north Everett house.

Stern on Monday called the woman’s story ridiculous.

He told jurors that the evidence will show that Bishop-McKean, 44, plotted the murder and bought weapons and materials to clean up after the expected bloodshed. When her plan went sideways, she concocted a story that just wasn’t plausible, Stern said.

The woman’s attorney, Ken Lee, chose not to give an opening statement on Monday.

Bishop-McKean, wearing a tidy gray suit, took pages of notes as Stern asked jurors to find the woman guilty of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault.

To convict her, jurors must be convinced that Bishop-McKean took a substantial step toward trying to kill her sleeping husband.

Stern told the jury that the man likely would have been killed if the electric saw had been equipped with a sharper, thinner blade.

The defendant also made the mistake of starting the saw closer to her body, rather than powering it up when it was on to her husband’s neck. The noise woke him and the second or two it took her to lower the blade gave him time to fend off the saw attack.

Jurors are expected to hear from the husband today.

He has filed for divorce, but Bishop-McKean is fighting the petition from behind bars.

The couple has been married since 2002, but had separated after Bishop-McKean made allegations that her husband was feeding one of their children antifreeze. Doctors found no evidence to support her claims. They reported that the child was in good health and ruled out antifreeze poisoning, court papers said.

Social workers became involved with the family, Stern wrote in court papers. Both children were temporarily removed from the home and it was during that time that Bishop-McKean’s husband moved out.

He told investigators that his wife invited him back to the house in mid-October. The attack happened his first night home. He told investigators that when he went to bed he heard a crunchy sound under the sheets. His wife told him that she’d added an extra blanket to make the bed more comfortable.

Police later determined that there was a layer of plastic under the sheets. They also found eight big aluminum roasting pans under the sink, along with large garbage bags. There were several gallons of bleach on top of the refrigerator and several towels scattered over the floor, court papers said.

The husband told police it was unusual to have so many extra supplies in the house.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

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