The Essex County Courthouse.
The third and final trial in the murder of Keeseville man Robert Rennie, Jr., ended with a guilty verdict against Paul Taylor, 39, of Keeseville.
A jury returned with guilty verdicts on all three charges on Oct. 1 after one day of deliberation, murder in the second-degree, first-degree gang-assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
District Attorney Kristy Sprague said there was no response from Taylor as the verdict was read.
Robert Rennie, Sr., father of the deceased, who sat through every court proceeding for all three trials, said he was glad the trials are over.
“I couldn’t just sit home and wonder what was happening,” said Rennie. “We were a little concerned this morning.”
Rennie thanked Sprague for doing a good job throughout the trials and though he and his family were unable to thank the jury personally, he wanted to.
“Our family thanks you for what you did for us, they did the right thing,” Rennie said.
Sprague said the most valuable evidence in the case against Taylor was the eye-witness account given by Angela Rivers, wife of the second man found guilty in the murder case, Michael. She testified to witnessing Taylor beat Rennie along with her husband and Scott Denno.
“Having that eye-witness account was invaluable to this case,” Sprague said.
At the beginning of the trial, Taylor’s attorney, Essex County Public Defender Brandon Boutelle, tried to make the argument Angela was trying to use Taylor as a scapegoat for the murder.
“I think the jury saw through the conspiracy theory argument because for one, if she was going to do that, she would have created a story that didn’t involve her husband,” Sprague said.
During deliberations the jury requested readbacks of the testimonies of Angela Rivers and Samantha LaCroix, who was Taylor’s former girlfriend and roommate at the time of Rennie’s murder.
Taylor, unlike the two previous trials, did not have the charge of criminal possession of a weapon dismissed. The judge dismissed those charges before the jury went for deliberations for Michael Rivers and Denno. This time there was enough evidence that he utilized his boots to cause injury.
“He had 14-wide steel-toe Chippewa boots that he used in a manner to cause injury to another person,” Sprague said. “It’s because of his prior conviction it wasn’t thrown out.”
Sprague said because of Taylor’s previous conviction of second-degree manslaughter, he likely faces life in prison.
In 1996, Taylor was arrested for beating a man to death in Port Henry. Sprague said he took a plea deal for a non-violent charge of misdemeanor manslaughter and served the full sentence of 15 years.
The prior conviction was not put before the jury because it would have been prejudicial and predisposed Taylor as a murderer to the jury. Sprague said the former charge can be used against him during sentencing.
“If you knew as a juror he was convicted of manslaughter, what is the first thing they would think in this case, so it’s deemed prejudicial,” Sprague said. “Innocent until proven guilty, we wanted a fair jury and fair proceedings on both sides.”
Another charge of forcible rape in a separate case is pending against Taylor.
Taylor is scheduled to be sentenced in the murder trial on Dec. 5 at 2:30 p.m. at the Essex County Courthouse.
“All three trials were tough but out of all three, he was the worst, and with his record I wanted him with a potential life sentence,” Sprague said. “He faces at the maximum life and minimum 10 or 20 years.”