Everett woman convicted in Sawzall attack on husband

EVERETT — An Everett woman was convicted of attempted murder Thursday for trying to cut off her husband’s head with an electric saw last fall.

Jurors deliberated for only about three hours before announcing a verdict in the case of Renee Bishop-McKean. They also found her guilty of first-degree assault for clobbering the man in the head with a hatchet and mallet.

The Everett woman, 44, was accused of unsuccessfully trying to cut through the sleeping man’s neck with a Sawzall.

She faces at least 15 years in prison at sentencing, now scheduled for Oct. 4.

Bishop-McKean shook her head in disagreement, but showed little other reaction when the verdicts were announced.

She had denied the attack, telling police that somebody must have slipped into their home through an open window Oct. 14, found the saw, and attempted to end her husband’s life.

The man was certain Bishop-McKean had attacked him, however. Police believed him, particularly after finding evidence that she recently had purchased the Sawzall, the hatchet and mallet and had stockpiled bleach and a supply of large garbage bags.

Jurors were told the couple had been living apart, but she invited him over, and directed that he sleep on a mattress that she’d wrapped in plastic, under the sheets.

“You don’t need to be concerned about the ‘why.’ You care about the ‘who,’” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern told jurors during closing arguments Thursday.

Defense attorney Ken Lee said his client didn’t attack the man and that prosecutors could neither explain what happened or prove her responsible. The attorney told jurors he had three theories.

The first is that his client told the truth, and an intruder somehow managed to attack her husband with the Sawzall and slip away unidentified. Lee suggested police simply failed to look hard enough for fingerprints or other evidence that would identify that person.

Or maybe, Lee said, Bishop-McKean’s husband hurt himself, and blamed her. He acknowledged the suggestion was “right out of Alfred Hitchcock” and pretty “far out.”

The only other option is that Bishop-McKean was behind the attack, but even if that is true, the evidence suggests a “very half-hearted attempt” to kill, Lee said.

Somebody intent on lopping off another’s head with an electric saw almost certainly would have done more damage, the lawyer said.

Stern detailed more than two dozen separate steps that Bishop-McKean took in the days before the attack. Combined, they showed careful planning, but also a failure to prepare for something going awry, he said.

Bishop-McKean’s husband was awakened by the sound of the saw and fought her off. That explains her spur-of-the-moment claims about a mysterious intruder who apparently brought no weapons, took nothing and slipped away, apparently through a window that was locked in place so that it could openly a few inches, Stern said.

The prosecutor called that the “Tinker Bell did this” defense.

Tests on the tools found a mix of DNA from the defendant and her husband, with trace amounts from somebody else. Jurors were told the unidentified DNA likely was from somebody who handled the Sawzall at the store before its purchase. Indeed, an expert testified that based on the test results, it was 1 trillion times more likely that the genetic material on the saw came from Bishop-McKean than anybody else.

The defendant did not testify at trial. In court Thursday she fidgeted in her chair and shook her head in denial as Stern detailed evidence suggesting she was responsible for the attack.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com

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