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May 8, 2013

Manslaughter case goes to jury today

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Scott Denno manslaughter case will go to the jury on Wednesday.

Before the defense rested on Tuesday afternoon, the defendant took the stand in his own defense, admitting he kicked Robert Rennie during an attack last year.

“I literally kicked Mr. Rennie three times,” he said. “I kicked his thighs and maybe his butt.” 

He added that he “kicked with a very light force — just enough to make it look like I was doing something.”

Denno, of Keeseville, is charged with first-degree manslaughter, gang assault and possession of a weapon in connection with Rennie’s death last August in Keeseville.

Also charged are Michael Rivers and Paul J. Taylor, who will be tried separately.

WEAPON CHARGE DROPPED

Before Denno, 20, gave his interpretation of events, the prosecution rested its case.

And his attorney, Joe Brennan, asked Judge Richard Meyers to dismiss the charges, saying testimony and evidence did not prove his client had beat Rennie to death.

Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague countered that the evidence and testimony presented since the trial began last week did prove intent.

She said the medical examiner had testified that “it didn’t matter where the kicks came from,” that the liver isn’t protected and is accessible from all sides.

An autopsy report concluded Rennie died of blunt-force trauma and internal bleeding.

Judge Richard Meyer dropped the weapon charge, saying there was “no proof that the shoes (worn by Denno as he kicked Rennie) caused serious injury or were capable of such.”

He reserved decision on the top two accusations, but then court resumed following a conference with the attorneys and Denno.

‘SQUARED OFF’

For nearly two hours, Denno gave his view of what happened.

He said he stood with Rivers, a man he looked up to as a father, as Rivers and Rennie exchanged words and punches on Front Street before walking down Mill Hill Road to “square off.”

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