The Essex County Courthouse.
A jury found Michael D. Rivers guilty of first-degree manslaughter and first degree gang assault on May 30 in relation to the death of Robert M. Rennie.
A third charge of criminal possession of a weapon was thrown out.
The jury went into deliberations at 10:30 a.m. and asked for read-backs of two testimonies, one of River’s wife, Angela Rivers, and the testimony of their son, Brandon Rivers. According to Assistant District Attorney Michael Langey, the jury came back with a verdict within three hours.
Both charges against Rivers, 36, of Keeseville, carry a maximum 25-year sentence which will be served concurrently.
During the trial which began on May 20, similar witnesses were called back from the trial of Scott Denno, who was convicted of the same two counts in the murder of Rennie May 8.
Expert testimonies were given by coroner Dr. Michael Sikirica, Senior Investigator John Donohue, who interrogated Rivers following the murder of Rennie and DNA expert Brian Murphy testified about the blood found on Rivers’ sneakers, blood found to belong to Rennie.
Brandon Rivers told the court about what his father had said to him after coming home from the fight with Rennie. Langey said Brandon told the court Rivers said, “we got him,” referring to beating up Rennie and told the court his father revealed to him what happened on Aug. 26 in the days following the altercation.
Angela Rivers had also testified. Rivers attorney had invoked spousal privilege when Angela took the stand but according to Langey, Angela was allowed to talk about the actions of her husband on the night of the assault and things said by her husband while in the company of other people. Langey said anything said in private between the spouses was not admissible. Angela testified that she had witnessed the assault of Rennie and had seen all three men, her husband, Denno, and Paul Taylor, 39, of Keeseville, kicking Rennie on Aug. 26.
The three men were arrested following the death .
An autopsy determined that Rennie died due to blunt force trauma and internal bleeding. Sikirica said during Denno’s trial that there was a tear in Rennie’s liver due to blunt force trauma and that his lungs had been partially collapsed with blood pooling in his chest cavity.
Sikirica testified that with the injuries sustained Rennie may have survived his injuries at least 12 minutes and could have tried to run away before collapsing at the bottom of the hill.
Taylor will be the last of the trio to face criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree gang assault, and first degree manslaughter. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on June 10.
Sentencing for Denno and Rivers was originally scheduled for June 27 but moved to Aug. 8 so both can be sentenced at the same time, Langey said.