Denno, originally from Georgia, Vt., said he had been living with the Riverses for about four days before the fight took place.
He told the court he did not know Robert Rennie before that day, Aug. 25, 2012.
He said he had spoken with Taylor three times and had never communicated with Taylor by phone.
Denno said that he went with Michael and his wife, Angela Rivers, to the home of Samantha LaCroix to see if Rennie was there. LaCroix had an order of protection against Rennie.
“Mike had got a text from Paul (Taylor), saying Robert was there,” Denno said.
At about 10:30, the trio went to confirm Rennie was with LaCroix and Taylor.
Then Mrs. Rivers called police to report the violation of the protection order.
“We decided we needed to get a hold of Paul Taylor and get him out of the house before police got there,” Denno said.
He added that Taylor was on probation, and the Riverses were afraid he would get caught drinking alcohol.
Denno told his attorney he had never texted Taylor before, but he did that night.
“I told him that I’d been jumped downtown and Mike wasn’t around.”
The ruse worked, and Taylor came out and got into the van.
They drove to a nearby parking lot and watched to see if police would arrive, Denno said.
He testified that they stayed in case police arrested both LaCroix and Rennie because Mrs. Rivers did not want Child Protective Services to take LaCroix’s three small children.
After 15 minutes or so, Denno said, he and Mr. Rivers got out of the van, and Mrs. Rivers left with Taylor.
He described how he and Mr. Rivers crossed Front Street and headed toward LaCroix’s apartment house and then saw Rennie walking on the other side of the road.