Pharmacist's bond reduced in first-degree murder case

Becky Campbell • Feb 20, 2014 at 9:19 AM

A local pharmacist’s bond hearing was packed Wednesday afternoon with friends and family members of his and his wife, who is also the victim in the case against him.

Lee Scott Renfro, 51, 15 South Hills Circle, is charged with attempted first-degree murder in an alleged attack on his wife in which he’s accused of injecting her with a blood sugar reducing medication.

It happened Feb. 12 at Johnson City Medical Center, where Martha Renfro was a patient. She had apparently been admitted for problems with her blood sugar, which is something that had plagued her for several weeks prior to her husband’s arrest.

Martha Renfro had been hospitalized three other times this year for the same symptoms, according to a court document.

Scott Renfro had been held on a $100,000 bond since his arrest last week. In the bond hearing Wednesday, Sessions Judge Don Arnold agreed to reduce the amount to a $60,000 property bond and a $10,000 corporate bond. A corporate bond is one through a bondsman.

Defense attorney Jim Bowman told Arnold that his client and Martha Renfro had agreed to use their home as collateral for the bond.

District Attorney General Tony Clark told Arnold he was not asking for an increase, but also didn’t want to see the bond reduced because of information he said an investigator had learned.

Clark said the bond is not only to ensure Renfro appears in court, “but also has to do with public safety. This man could be a danger to himself or others.”

Clark did not elaborate on any alleged threats, but Arnold said he couldn’t make a decision based on Clark’s remarks only.

The problem I have is I don’t know what the investigator told you,” Arnold said to Clark. He offered Clark and defense attorneys Bowman and Nikki Himebaugh about 10 minutes to see if they could reach an agreement without holding a full hearing.

The attorneys didn’t take that break, but after Clark leaned down to whisper something to Bowman, the agreement of a split bond was revealed.

Clark asked that a condition of the bond is that Scott Renfro stay away from West Towne Pharmacy where he worked and is part owner.

Renfro will be allowed to live in the couple’s home at the request of his wife.

“Mrs. Renfro is presently staying with her parents. She prefers he live in the marital residence because its next to his parents and he has been a long-time caregiver for them,” Bowman said.

There was no restriction that Scott Renfro stay away from his wife. Martha Renfro and the couple’s two adult daughters were both at the hearing.

When the hearing was over, more than 50 people got up and left the courtroom. Many of them stayed in the courthouse lobby for a while hugging, crying and consoling Renfro’s family.

According to the warrant, Scott Renfro is suspected of injecting his wife with Victoza, described as a medication that lowers a person’s blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas, which then releases insulin. A syringe with that label was found in Martha Renfro’s hospital room, and her nurse discovered his patient had a small drop of blood on her leg which appeared to be coming from a small puncture wound. Scott Renfro was the only other person in the room, police said.

The warrant indicates Renfro “doesn’t remember doing it,” and when a nurse initially confronted him, he denied he had injected his wife with the medication. Low blood sugar, which previously has caused Martha Renfro to lose consciousness, was the reason for those hospital stays.

According to the police report, Martha Renfro’s nurse walked by her room and saw the patient jump, then her blood pressure went up.

The nurse confronted Scott Renfro and later told police the man had been standing beside his wife but moved away right as her heart rate jumped up.

The nurse asked the victim if she was OK, to which she replied that her husband had pinched her on the leg. When the nurse checked Martha Renfro’s leg, he “found that there was a small drop of blood on her thigh and what appeared to be a small puncture wound,” Investigator Mark Stout wrote in the affidavit of complaint.

The nurse asked Renfro if he had done anything to his wife, and the man said he had not. The nurse went to get another nurse and when he came back he saw something — which turned out to be a syringe — under a blanket on Scott Renfro’s lap. He took it from the patient’s husband and saw it was a syringe labeled Victoza.

“The victim stated, ‘Honey, you don’t take that,’ and then she started to cry,” Stout wrote.

After the nurse found the syringe, he called police and that led to Renfro’s arrest. During questioning, Renfro told police “he must have been the one who injected her because he was the only one in the room with her, but he doesn’t remember doing it,” Stout wrote in the warrant.

Renfro has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 11 at 1:30 p.m.

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