Local News

May 1, 2013

First witnesses called in Denno trial

ELIZABETHTOWN — Brian McNeilly had just driven down Mill Hill Road in Keeseville, delivering newspapers, when he caught sight of a body near the closed River Street bridge.

“I stopped at the first house,” he testified in Essex County Court on Tuesday morning, “and got out of the car to throw the paper. 

“I seen an individual laying on the ground.”

McNeilly was one of the first witnesses called in the manslaughter case against Scott E. Denno, 19, who is charged in connection with the beating death of Robert Rennie last August.

Awaiting trial are Michael D. Rivers, 36, also charged with first-degree manslaughter; and Paul J. Taylor, 39, whose charges include second-degree homicide.

McNeilly, a former newspaper delivery man for the Press-Republican, told the court he approached the prone figure.

“I knelt down,” he said. “(I) shrugged his shoulder lightly and asked him if he was OK.”

Then, he said, he went to get help from a nearby neighbor, who called the Keeseville Ambulance Squad. 


The newspaper delivery man waited until an emergency medical technician arrived.

That person was Polly King, who lives about five houses up the street.

The call was dispatched at 6:12 a.m. Aug. 26, the EMT recalled.

King said she found a “man laying face down right at the edge of the bridge where it’s got a barrier.”

She told the court she attended school with Rennie and recognized him as she moved his elbow to check for a pulse on his neck and wrist.

“He had blood coming from his face and blood on his head.”

When she found no sign of life, King called dispatchers and asked for State Police assistance.


Testimony Tuesday afternoon brought to light the fact that Rennie, Taylor and a woman both men had been dating spent some time on the night of Aug. 25 drinking at her apartment.

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