ELIZABETHTOWN — Paul J. Taylor had a growing romantic interest in the on-again-off-again girlfriend of Robert M. Rennie, Essex County District Attorney Kristie Sprague says.
That, she said in her opening statement at Taylor's trial in Essex County Court this week, was his motive to murder Rennie, who was left fatally wounded by a gang assault by Scott E. Denno, Michael D. Rivers and allegedly Taylor on the night of Aug. 25, 2012, in Keeseville.
The defendant stands accused of second-degree murder, felony gang assault and possession of a weapon in connection with Rennie's death.
Both Denno and Rivers were found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and the assault charge at trials earlier this year.
Sprague told the court that Taylor’s actions were the most violent of the three; the more serious charge of murder requires prosecution to prove the defendant intended to cause Rennie's death.
Essex County Chief Public Defender Brandon Boutelle is representing Taylor at trial.
'BRUISES ON BODY'
One of seven witnesses slated to take the stand on Wednesday was Rennie's girlfriend, Samantha LaCroix, who didn’t look at Taylor during her testimony and stared straight ahead, speaking quietly.
The young mother of three small children, she said she met Taylor in July 2012 through her cousins Michael and Angela Rivers.
Angela was her day-care provider, LaCroix told the jury.
LaCroix said she had worked with Rivers and Taylor at an apple-packing plant at the time. She had been dating Rennie for about a year.
And she had gone to work with bruises on her body, which Rivers had seen.
“Did you continue to have contact with Robert Rennie?” Sprague asked the witness.
“Yes,” LaCroix said, admitting they saw each other nearly every night except for about two weeks after she filed for a protection order in July 2012.