Robert Rennie, 45 of Keeseville.
ELIZABETHTOWN — Three men were arrested Oct. 5 and then and arraigned in Elizabethtown Town Court for the beating death of 45-year-old Keeseville resident Robert Rennie, whose body was found near the closed River Street bridge in Keeseville on Aug. 26.
Paul Taylor, 39; Michael Rivers, 36; and Scott Denno, 19; all of Keeseville were each charged with gang assault first degree after investigations by the New York State Police and the Essex County District Attorney’s office.
Along with the gang assault charges, Rivers and Denno were charged with first-degree manslaughter, while Taylor was charged with second-degree murder. Taylor and Rivers were charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
State Police Capt. Robert LaFountain said that the weapons were steel-toed and regular boots which were used to kick the victim.
“The victim was severly beaten and kicked with steel-toed boots, regular boots and sneakers,” LaFountain said.
“They are deemed as weapons because of the manner in which they were used,” District Attorney Kristy Sprague added.
Taylor had been in jail since Aug. 29, charged with first-degree rape in Keeseville. In March of 1997, Taylor was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Marcus Chadwick. According to the case, Taylor had placed a tree on Chadwick and left him on a Moriah trail to die. Taylor had been released from prison and paroled in 2010.
When asked about Taylor’s criminal record, LaFountain responded, “I think it speaks for itself.”
Rivers also has a criminal past, having been convicted on third-degree burglary charges in 1996 and sentenced to serve time and probation.
LaFountain said that through the investigation, police believe that Taylor and Rennie knew each other and that Rennie was the target of violence.
“We believe that the defendants sought out Mr. Rennie and attacked him on the street above where his body was found,” LaFountain said.
LaFountain said that he would not go into more details about the motive or attack, other than to say that the death was ruled a homicide and manner of death ruled as severe internal injuries.
“There was not one piece of evidence that got us here,” LaFountain said. “There were numerous interviews and pieces of evidence which led us to quickly identify these men as potential suspects.”
LaFountain said that he was pleased with the work done by police and county officials along with the support and cooperation of Keeseville residents.
“We thank the DA for her assistance and the community in Keeseville that provided pertinent information and leads,” LaFountain said. “The investigators were working this case continuously and it shows their extreme dedication to the case because there is no time period on a homicide.”
All three suspects were remanded to the care of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department by Elizabethtown Justice William Garrison. Taylor was remanded without the possibility of parole, while Rivers and Denno were remanded on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond. Both sought a reduction in bail but were told they would need their lawyer to make the official request.
Rivers and Denno were also placed under an order of protection to keep away from Rivers’ residence, where both were staying, and Rivers’ wife.
Sprague said that she planned to send the case to a Grand Jury before preliminary hearings, which were scheduled for Oct. 11.
“I cannot comment at this time on how they will be charged,” Sprague said. “They could be charged separately or be charged together, but that determination has not been made.”