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December 20, 2013

Old case challenged in new sentence

ELIZABETHTOWN — Public Defender Brandon Boutelle intends to revisit an old case before his client gets a new sentence.

In 1999, the Essex County Supreme Court upheld Paul J. Taylor’s guilty plea deal in a 1996 manslaughter charge.

But Boutelle is challenging the court’s handling of that case, aiming to discount the prior conviction at sentencing for the murder of Robert M. Rennie.

In 1996, an Essex County grand jury indicted both Taylor and his roommate Mark Hathaway on a slew of charges in connection with the death of Marcus Chadwick in Moriah.

Prosecution successfully brought second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and five counts of first- and second-degree assault, along with grand larceny charges against the two men, stemming from a drunken brawl off Tracey Road. 

Taylor was driving the van, according to court and police accounts, on May 3, 1996, when the fight started. 

He got out to urinate in the woods, and Hathaway dragged Chadwick from the vehicle. Together, the two men rolled the drunk and unconscious Chadwick off a logging road onto his face, placed a tree over his body and left him there. Hathaway told police he stole Chadwick’s wallet so no one could identify him.

The Vermont man was found dead about 11 days later.

Facing numerous felony charges, Hathaway pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced illegally, a court ruled.

The New York State Department of Corrections caught the error, which gave Hathaway a “definite” 15 years in prison, even though the manslaughter charge did not warrant a “definite” sentence.

Essex County Court vacated and subsequently re-sentenced Hathaway to an “indeterminate” 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison. 

GUILTY PLEAS UPHELD

Hathaway’s illegal sentence drew further attention to details of the case.

In a decision dated July 22, 1997, Judge Jan H. Plumadore reviewed the plea deals as part of a legal discussion. He found errors of law that hinged on “violent” versus “non-violent” felony charges.

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