May 23, 2013

Wife testifies in manslaughter case

ELIZABETHTOWN — Blood evidence consumed much of Wednesday morning’s court testimony in the case against Michael D. Rivers.

He is accused of first-degree manslaughter, gang assault and possession of a weapon in the death of Robert M. Rennie, who was found dead by the closed bridge below Mill Hill in Keeseville on Aug. 26 last year.

Nearly 100 articles of evidence had been entered late Tuesday by District Attorney Kristy Sprague and defense attorney Gregory LaDuke.

And each attorney referred to a series of photographs and footwear of the three men involved in the case — Rivers; Scott E. Denno, 20, who was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and gang assault two weeks ago; and Paul J. Taylor, 39, who goes to trial next month. He is charged with second-degree murder, gang assault and possession of a weapon.


Sprague put State Police Senior Investigator Allan Wright on the stand at 9 a.m. Wednesday, showing the witness and jurors several photos of Rennie’s body where it was found immediately in front of the barricaded bridge on the River Street end.

Wright said the two wide guardrails in front of the bridge had drops of blood on them, and they confirmed that the photographs in evidence were from where Rennie was found.

Also, below the guardrails, blood was pooled on a piece of asphalt, which he told the court was pried from the ground and kept as evidence.

Police swabbed the guardrail, Wright said, to identify whose blood was there.

The photographs showed droplets of blood with vertical stains dripping down the guardrail.

Through the morning, Rivers, 36, sat in court beside LaDuke, taking notes on a yellow legal pad.


Sprague asked Wright if they searched other areas, and through more than an hour’s worth of testimony, established several areas along Mill Hill where, he said, blood evidence was located.

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