Louise B. Renaud was bored with her husband, so she decided to have him killed, the Arlington prosecutor said yesterday.
She met with a man, who unknown to her was an undercover agent for the Naval Investigative Service, at a McDonald's restaurant in Arlington last spring and arranged to have her husband blown up in the couple's Spotsylvania County trailer on a Thursday night when he would be watching "The Bill Cosby Show," Commonwealth's Attorney Henry E. Hudson said.
Renaud pleaded guilty yesterday in Arlington County Circuit Court to charges of procuring the burning of an occupied dwelling at night and soliciting to commit capital murder.
As part of a plea agreement, Hudson asked that her sentences on the two felony charges run concurrently. Renaud, 28, who appeared in court wearing an oversized blue "Arlington Jail" shirt on her tiny frame and blue knitted slippers, can receive a maximum of life imprisonment on the first charge, a maximum of five years on the latter.
Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick accepted Renaud's guilty pleas and set the sentencing for Jan. 10. In addition to a presentence evaluation, defense attorney Leon Demsky asked that his client undergo another psychological test.
It was the second court appearance for Renaud yesterday. Earlier in the day, dressed in a sweater dress and heels, Renaud brought the court proceedings to a halt with her answer to Judge P.F. Sheridan's routine question about whether she had any complaints with the representation she had received from her attorney.
"There are a whole lot of unanswered questions I have," said Renaud, whose response brought surprised looks from several people in the courtroom, including her defense attorney. She added, however, that she had no problem with the copy of the plea agreement before her.
But Judge Sheridan said: "I just can't accept a plea of guilty from someone sending me mixed signals." With that, he dismissed everyone until tomorrow, the day her trial was scheduled to begin.
Later in the day, the problem apparently resolved, all parties were back in court, this time before Judge Kendrick. When again queried, Renaud said she had no problems with the representation of her attorney and entered her pleas.
Hudson, in explaining the state's case in court, said the evidence showed that Renaud, who lived in a mobile home park near Fredericksburg with her husband and children, had answered an ad seeking insurance agents in Prince William County last spring.
Renaud, who worked for the D.C. Air National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base, indicated to insurance agent Mark Lumsden that she wanted a job selling insurance and wanted to take out a $100,000 policy on her husband, Hudson said.
Hudson said the evidence showed that Renaud forged her husband's name on the policy, which she told Lumsden she "desperately needed," and put $60 down.
Hudson said that Renaud, after several conversations with Lumsden, told him that she wanted to double the insurance policy on her trailer and that she "was interested" in having her husband killed. Lumsden replied that a friend of his, Michael Speedling, was "into everything," and arranged for the introduction.
Hudson said Renaud and Speedling, who is an undercover agent, had several meetings at the Arlington McDonald's and that Renaud told the undercover agent she wanted her husband killed and would pay him $10,000, with $500 up front. Speedling was wired for sound and Arlington police officers took pictures in the parking lot, he said.
The plan was for Speedling to bomb the trailer, Hudson said.
On the agreed-upon night, June 20, Arlington police and state police watched Renaud carry some of her belongings out of the trailer and drive to a nearby mall with her children to watch a movie, Hudson said. She was arrested as she was walking out of the movie theater, he said.
Attorney Demsky said that while his client pleaded guilty, she maintains her innocence and does not agree with all the material presented by Hudson.
Hudson said Renaud's husband, who was not named, was shocked to learn of the murder plot and the insurance policy. When asked after the proceedings yesterday why Renaud wanted to kill her husband, Hudson responded: "She indicated she was bored with her husband."