It was more challenging for the prosecution this time.
“We were looking at the murder two,” Sprague said, “which was a much higher burden of proof. We had to show intent to cause death, and that is hard when you have three participants in a homicide case.”
Sprague felt that eyewitness accounts, matched with solid forensic evidence, proved the case against Taylor.
“Out of all three, he was the worst offender,” she said.
Taylor’s prior conviction could not be raised in court, she said, because it’s prejudicial, showing possible propensity for him to commit another crime.
“In court, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. We want a fair trial in every case,” Sprague said.
RAPE CHARGE PENDING
Taylor still faces a charge of first-degree rape in a separate case in Essex County Court.
He was arrested on that charge on Aug. 26, 2012, the day Rennie was found lifeless near the bridge in Keeseville. Taylor has been held in Essex County Jail ever since.
Sprague said they can advocate for the maximum penalty in the murder case, given Taylor’s prior conviction.
‘IT SURE HELPS’
Robert J. Rennie, Robert’s father, said he was very glad the process is over.
Standing in the warm midday sun on the court steps, he said the guilty verdict did bring a measure of resolution to his family’s loss.
“It doesn’t bring Robert back, but it sure helps.”
The elder Rennie was flanked by his wife, Karen; former wife, Vaida, who is Robert’s mother; son, Michael; and daughter, Sheila.
The case brings the family’s long search for justice for their son to a close, pending sentencing of both Rivers and Taylor, who were convicted of first-degree manslaughter and felony gang assault in earlier trials.
In testimony last week, Angela Rivers — who is Michael Rivers’s wife — told the court that Taylor didn’t stop kicking Rennie when she screamed at him to stop and that he told her he wasn’t finished yet.