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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Susan Behny has been cleared in the killing of her husband with a shotgun blast.

Thursday, an Allen County jury found Behny not guilty of a charge of murder in the Nov. 8, 2021, shooting death of her husband, Kenneth Behny, in the couple’s home on Fort Wayne’s southwest side.

Susan Behny

It was a case based on circumstantial evidence since the murder weapon – a 12-gauge shotgun – was never found. There were no fingerprints to be had in the 1,000 square foot home at 3633 Turf Lane where Behny lived with her husband of 45 years. No DNA evidence linked Susan to the crime and her flip phone cell phone was useless during the investigation.

But investigators, including a half dozen homicide detectives present during closing arguments Thursday, didn’t find evidence of any other individual entering the home in the early morning hours of Nov. 8 last year and shooting Kenneth as he lay prone in his bed. The Allen County Coroner said buckshot was recovered from his head and the blast threw blood splatter on the wall, according to court testimony and a probable cause affidavit written by homicide detective Ben MacDonald.

The cellular Geofence didn’t capture any intruder nor did Ring doorbell surveillance from other nearby homes, they said.

Police found no signs of forced entry. On the contrary, detectives Brian Martin and Ben MacDonald believed entry through a sliding door appeared to be staged with carpet pulled to the side, a couch moved a bit and a burglar bar standing up.

Then there was the demeanor of Susan Behny who didn’t call 911, but instead phoned her biological children, Jim Behny and Mindy Lunz. Defense attorney Anthony Churchward argued that an older woman with no experience with police would naturally want her family around after her husband had been shot.

But Martin and other officers found her unemotional demeanor odd after police arrived around 1:30 p.m. Nov. 8, hours after Kenneth was thought to have been shot before 4 a.m. Her first spontaneous utterances denied involvement: “I didn’t kill my husband. I didn’t murder him.” She also said she didn’t pay anyone to murder him, court documents said.

Chief Counsel Tom Chaille and Deputy prosecutor Tesa Helge said a normal reaction would have been great fear, shock and a desire to find the person responsible for killer her husband.

“We saw more emotion on the stand than her (Behny) talking to that officer,” Chaille said of the Susan’s interview with the officer just after police responded. Body cam video recorded that interview and the discovery of Behny’s body in the bed. A crime scene photo of Behny produced in court showed him lying on his right side, wearing only his underwear, as if he were sleeping.

Churchward said there wasn’t a motive for his murder, at least on the part of Susan, his wife, but Chaille, said people outside the family reported Kenneth telling them that if anything ever happened to him, it was “that f—g b—-,” words Chaille repeated in closing arguments.

Kenneth Behny spent most of his time in the garage when he was home, but volunteered at the Franciscan Center and visited a local bar.

Churchward said Kenneth’s derogatory comments were made, but during a 45-year marriage “who hasn’t been upset with a spouse?” He said there “was no evidence of hostility.”

Chaille said the testimony of Susan’s two biological children – Jim Behny and Mindy Lunz – offspring Kenneth adopted during the Behnys’ 45-year-marriage, covered for their mother. During their time on the stand, they testified the couple “bickered,” the same word used by another relative on the stand. Kenneth may have spent every waking hour in his garage where he had his television, his cigarettes, his beer and food, but he did everything for Susan, including the grocery shopping from a list she wrote, Churchward said.

But evidence from others pointed to a relationship full of anger, spite, and hate, enough of those sentiments to walk down a short hallway on a walker with a carrier bag, enter her husband’s bedroom, lift a shotgun up under her arm and fire, Chaille said. A telltale bruise under her left tricep was indication of an inexperienced shooter, Martin testified.

Churchward, who called the defendant “Sue,” minimized the importance of the bruise, saying there were several small bruises and not uncommon for someone on blood thinners and older. Churchward also argued that Susan didn’t have the physical capability to shoot a heavy shotgun and then dispose of it.

But Chaille and deputy prosecutor Tesa Helge said Susan had hours to get rid of it and any other evidence. During the investigation, detectives also searched the home of son, Jim Behny, and discovered two shotguns. Fingerprint analysis couldn’t be made, according to forensic testimony.

There was also the loud noise of the shotgun, a noise that likely would have shaken the neighborhood on the southwest side of the city. Neighbors apparently didn’t hear the blast that killed Kenneth Behny or didn’t link it to a potential homicide, but it would have been even more unlikely that Susan didn’t hear it, prosecutors and detectives testified. There is also the smell of a shotgun blast, Chaille said.

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What Susan told investigators in the probable cause affidavit is that she heard a noise and assumed it was Kenneth’s cane that dropped on the floor.

All of this occurred after the two returned from a family birthday party around 6:30 p.m. the night before and went into their usual habits. She could watch television in her bedroom, while Kenneth had access to TV in the garage and living room.

Kenneth fell asleep about 7 p.m, but she didn’t get to sleep until 2 to 2:30 a.m. and then woke up at 4 a.m. to use the restroom, court documents said. She observed that no lights were on and said that was unusual because that’s the time Kenneth usually arose to drink his coffee and start moving around the house. She went back to bed and didn’t wake up until the morning.

Around 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m., she checked on her husband, but only enough to see that his feet were on the bed and thought he’d fallen asleep. She didn’t see the gunshot wound until around 1 p.m. when she woke up after dozing in a chair in front of the television, according to court documents.

She said she saw the blood on his face and the blood spatter on the wall “and knew he’d been murdered,” the probable cause said. She could tell “it wasn’t just a bloody nose.”

Was she not crying enough at the funeral? Churchward asked because other people noted it. “Too much makeup? That’s when you “suck it up and thank people for showing up.”

Dr. Steven Ross, a forensic psychologist, testified Wednesday that “everyone is different in the way they react to trauma and expressing grief,” Churchward said in his closing argument.

But if Susan Behny didn’t commit the murder, who did? Chaille answered that for the jury.

“Two people were in that house,” he said, summing it up. “Only one walked out and she’s sitting right over there.”