Oliver Renehan

Oliver Renehan listens to testimony during his bail hearing in July 2019. The two counts of first-degree assault have been dropped.

NEWPORT — Oliver Renehan, the man accused of shooting his neighbor in a violent dispute that started over a toy boat, is getting out of jail after Sullivan Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker ruled that he was not too dangerous.

“The issue here is not whether or not the defendant committed a crime. That will be determined at trial. The issue is if he’s dangerous,” Tucker said during Renehan’s Monday bail hearing.

Renehan, 58, has been jailed since the Wednesday evening shooting. Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway wanted to keep him locked up pending trial, saying Renehan had fired two shots from his .45 caliber pistol, the first going through his neighbor’s home where a 6-year-old and 11-year-old were inside, and the other hitting Kevin Nottage III, 24, in the leg. Hathaway said Nottage was not a danger to Renehan then, and that Renehan was not under attack when he fired the two shots.

“He fired two shots under circumstances that were questionable,” Hathaway said. “He poses a clear and present danger to others.”

Renehan’s attorney, Tony Hutchins, disagreed, saying that his client was protecting his girlfriend, Paula Cain, 57, who was in the process of being beaten by neighbor Valerie Ellsey when Renehan shot.

It’s unclear what, exactly, Nottage’s role in the fracas was when the shots were fired, with some witnesses claiming he was not near the fight between Cain and Ellsey, but with Nottage himself telling police he was physically involved, trying to separate the women, according to testimony brought forward Monday.

Hutchins said Renehan fired his pistol in order to protect Cain when he saw Ellsey attacking her and Nottage somehow involved.

“I think that’s a pretty good self defense case,” Hutchins said.

Renehan and Cain have a long-standing feud going with Ellsey and her family over a shared driveway at their South Main Street properties. Two years ago, Cain claims, she was beaten by members of Ellsey’s household. Oliver Renehan’s son, Raymond “Powell” Renehan, 28, was charged for shooting at the neighbors during that round of hostilities. Raymond Renehan was in court on Monday, but he declined to comment on his or his father’s cases.

According to testimony, Cain pushed the toy boat with her car entering the driveway, and Ellsey came out to put it back before the two women became involved in some sort of argument.

Ellsey told police that Cain walked up to her carrying a gun, but Nottage said the two women started fighting and Cain’s gun fell out of her pocket, according to Monday testimony.

Cain’s face is heavily bruised from the fight, and she was bleeding when police arrived, according to the body camera videos played in court. Ellsey does not appear injured from the fight. She and Nottage told police Cain didn’t know how to fight, police said.

Police said Nottage told them he was trying to break up the women, while other witnesses put him farther back from the action before Renehan fired. Police said Nottage told them that when Renehan pulled out his gun, Nottage went to distract him and walked toward him before the two got into a shoving match.

“I don’t put my hands on people until they put their hands on me,” Nottage told police in a videotaped interview.

There are too many different versions of what happened, Hutchins said.

“We’ve heard a number of versions of events here, and I don’t know if I’ve heard more contradictions in any other case,” he said.

Renehan has agreed to stay with friends in Grantham pending trial, and Tucker ordered that he can be released on an unsecured bond for $10,000 cash. Renehan will be subject to GPS monitoring, he is not to possess firearms and he is not to drink alcohol. He is also not to have any contact with Ellsey, Nottage or others at the South Main Street property.

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Wednesday, February 26, 2020