Everything you need to know about Shayna Hubers' murder retrial

She's back: Get caught up before Hubers' retrial
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 16:50:40-04

NEWPORT, Ky. -- Shayna Hubers fantasized about killing boyfriend Ryan Poston the night of Oct. 1, 2012, she told a friend via text message. The couple were going to a shooting range together, she wrote, and she wanted to "turn around, shoot and kill him and play like it's an accident."

Instead, she posed for pictures with a rifle in hand and posted one the following day on her now-private Instagram. Poston would remain alive until Oct. 12, when a shaky-voiced Hubers called 911 to report she had killed him in self-defense.

"I'm standing about 10 feet from the dead body," she told the responder, her voice rising into a scream.

Police discovered Poston, 29, dead of six gunshot wounds inside the apartment. Their subsequent interrogation of then-21-year-old Hubers, whose erratic behavior cast doubt on her claims of self-defense, produced a murder charge, a sensational trial that captivated the true-crime carrion birds at Dr. Drew and, ultimately, a sentence to 40 years in prison.

Ryan Poston

However, following the 2017 revelation that one of the jurors on that case was a convicted felon, Hubers' defense team received an unexpected second chance at securing her freedom. They're back in court Wednesday to select new jurors who will hear her case again.

Here's what you need to know about the case to get caught up.

Who was the victim?

Prosecutor Michelle Snodgrass and defense attorneys are likely to disagree. Ryan Poston's parents memorialized him as "beautiful, brilliant" and kind-hearted, with a powerful, lifelong sense of justice that led him to pursue a career in law. Carissa Carlisle, who introduced the couple and testified at Hubers' first trial, said he had repeatedly tried to end the relationship but was too reluctant to hurt Hubers' feelings. He also faced "restraining order level crazy" from Hubers after each attempt, including fusillades of text messages and unannounced appearances at his apartment, she said.

Poston's stepfather, Peter Carter, testified he had been planning a date with another woman at the time of his death but worried Hubers' unwelcome presence would force him to cancel it.

Hubers, however, described Poston as self-centered and physically abusive toward her throughout their relationship. She claimed he had been moving to strike her during an argument when she grabbed a gun from a nearby table, shot him several times out of "gut instinct" and then killed him "so that he wouldn't suffer." Texts she sent to friends before his death described him as an "evil person," according to Highland Heights Police Chief Bill Birkenhauer.

Her mother testified in 2015 that Poston gave her "the creeps," and a toxicologist speaking as an expert witness for the defense said a combination of medications found in his blood -- Xanax and Adderall -- could potentially lead to violent behavior in some users.

One of Hubers' negative comments about Poston -- that he was so vain she shot him in the face to perform "his nose job he wanted" -- became a central talking point in news coverage of the case. When "Good Morning America " reported on her conviction being overturned, the lower third described her as the "'Nose Job' Killer."

Why was Hubers charged?

Although she claimed the killing had been in self-defense, Hubers' behavior during her interview with police struck them as strange enough to contribute to her murder charge. In addition to the "nose job" comment, officers who responded to the scene said they never saw her cry and that she appeared happy while being driven to the nearby police department.

"Did she shed any tears? No, it was more like a quick burst of 'I don't know how to explain it,' almost like she was trying to cry but then stopped all of a sudden," Lt. David Fornash said during her first trial. "No tears were ever seen by me."

At one point during her interview, she worried out loud that no one would want to marry her if they learned she had killed a past boyfriend.

Birkenhauer also said Hubers' account of a physical struggle leading up to the shooting did not match the scene he and others examined. Despite Hubers' claim that she had grabbed the gun from a table after Poston threw her around the apartment, Birkenhauer said the table in question appeared undisturbed when police investigated the scene.

What else did Hubers say?

She said a lot, according to prosecutors. Witnesses for the prosecution in her first trial included fellow inmates with whom she had interacted at the Campbell County Justice Center and who claimed she publicly discussed the details of Poston's death, including her contempt for him and her plan to "plead the wife-battered syndrome."

"She said she was going to plead insanity," inmate Cicily Miller said. "Then she said she was too smart because she has an IQ of Einstein."

Another inmate, Donna Dooley, said Hubers told her she had attempted to stage a struggle by throwing things around Poston's apartment.

"I saw no remorse," she said. "She played the victim role. … She told me that his family was not the only family that lost a child -- her family lost a child, too, because she's here."

Defense attorneys accused both women of projecting sinister motives onto Hubers' behavior and pointed out neither of them had witnessed the shooting or known Hubers before her arrest.

Wasn't there some tomfoolery involved in this retrial?

Yes. Her lawyersmotioned in mid-2017 to have Hubers' retrial moved away from the nexus of local news coverage in Campbell, Boone, Bracken, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton counties, claiming public knowledge of the case had irreparably polluted the local jury pool.

They withdrew that motion, "shocked and saddened," when prosecutors discovered 118 of the 156 affidavits submitted to support the change had been forged by notary Brittany Young. According to police, Young confessed to collecting only three authentic signatures before turning to her Facebook friend list and publicly accessible property records to find the rest of the names.

One of the forged affidavits was signed in the name of an assistant commonwealth attorney who worked in the same office as the prosecutors, they wrote.

Hubers' defense team said in a written statement they had been unaware of the forgeries and believed they had hired a reputable investigative firm to collect the affidavits. Young eventually pleaded guilty to forgery charges and received a sentence of 30 days in jail, 150 days of home detention and five years' probation.

What has Hubers' life been like behind bars?

According to her, it's been a process of maturation and self-discovery. Despite her stated worry that killing Poston would make her unmarriageable, Hubers wed fellow Campbell County inmate Unique Taylor in June.

Like Hubers, Taylor described herself as someone who had been misunderstood and treated unfairly by the Campbell County justice system. Each woman wrote to WCPO that she considered the other "brilliant," with Taylor's effusive praise including also that Hubers was "funny, talented, compassionate, loving" and in possession of "an otherworldly beauty."

Hubers, who said she worried their request for a marriage license would be refused because of her past, spoke to WCPO anchor Craig McKee shortly after filing the request in May. Although she repeatedly insisted she was not interested in speaking about Poston's death, she did compare her relationship with him to her relationship with Taylor.

Watch raw video of our entire interview with Hubers:


"I think I've been through a lot, and I was a young girl then, and I think I'm a woman now," she said. "(Poston) wasn't the right person, so we didn't understand each other as well. Unique and I understand each other a lot better."

Apart from that comment, she declined to discuss Poston, their relationship or whether she regretted killing him in 2012. When asked if she would take the stand in her retrial -- pre-recorded interviews spoke for her in the first -- she said she planned to "make that a surprise."

Given her history of making comments that played poorly in front of jurors and audiences, veteran defense attorney Mark Krumbein said he believed it would be better for her defense to keepHubers off the stand.

"She sort of has a light-hearted nature," he said in May. "She's not a great candidate to take the stand."

When reached for comment about the interview and Hubers' marriage, Snodgrass said none of it affected her strategy moving forward.

"We are going to go in and fight for justice for Ryan Poston, so none of this outside craziness has anything to do with our case, and it doesn't impact us," she said.