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April 5, 2014

Michael Rivers gets maximum sentence

Keeseville man last to be sentenced in gang-assault death of Robert Rennie

ELIZABETHTOWN — Michael D. Rivers was given the maximum penalty for his role in the beating death of Keeseville resident Robert M. Rennie.

Rivers was sentenced Friday to 25 years for first-degree manslaughter and 25 years for felony gang assault, both terms to be served at the same time.

It was Rivers’s fourth such court appearance. This time, he appeared with a new attorney, Martin McGuinness of Glens Falls — the third court-appointed counsel to represent him.

His head shaved and hands shackled, Rivers nodded to family members in the gallery. 

He was found guilty last May for his part in the Aug. 26, 2012, kicking and beating death of Rennie, a single father who had two young daughters.

‘COWARDICE AND LIES’

This is the end of the third and final case, encompassing three week-long trials held between April and September last year.

Rennie’s father, Robert T. Rennie, stood and delivered a statement to the court.

“Mike Rivers,” he said, “because of your cowardice and lies, you caused the death of my son. You instigated the gang that killed my son.”

He said the family thinks of their missing son, father and brother every day.

“We certainly hope justice prevails this day.”

‘NO RESPECT FOR ANYBODY’

Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague asked Judge Richard B. Meyer to hand down the maximum sentence for both first-degree manslaughter and gang assault.

“He has no respect for the criminal-justice system,” Sprague said of Rivers. “He has no respect for human life.”

Sprague recounted how Rivers dragged his own family into the courtroom with accusations that meant his wife, Angela Rivers, and their son, Brandon, had to testify. 

In addition, the DA said, Mr. Rivers used the telephone Personal Identification Numbers from other prisoners in Essex County Jail to contact his wife — against orders of protection.

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