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Men plead guilty in torture case

By JESSICA RESNICK-AULT
Journal Staff Writer

REHOBOTH -- Two Bristol men pleaded guilty Wednesday to using a flatbed truck and a blowtorch to assault a "mentally diminished" man who had allegedly taken $5 from them.

Robert L. Oliver, 49, of 19 Roosevelt Drive and Christopher R. Martin, 21, of 8 Corte Real Drive were each charged with five counts of assault and battery and one count of malicious destruction of property. The charges stemmed from events that took place in a Rehoboth garage nearly two years ago.

On April 10, 2002, Bristol police were called to a house in Bristol, where they found Stephen Van Rensselaer Jr. with grease on his face, boots and hands, and burn marks on his clothing and hair, according to a police report.

He told the officers that the previous night Oliver and Martin had taken him to a Rehoboth garage, where they had hurt him several times with a flatbed truck and a propane blowtorch.

Bristol police took Van Rensselaer to a hospital, and contacted Rehoboth police to investigate further. Rehoboth Detective Bruce A. Dube visited Van Rensselaer in the hospital, where the victim asked for protection from "Bobby," according to Dube's report.

"Bobby had me put my hand under the ramp truck, and Chris lowered it until I felt pain," Van Rensselaer told Dube.

Van Rensselaer identified Robert Oliver as Bobby, and said he had known the man since 1971.

The pair had lived together at 5 Dixon Ave., Bristol, and moved two years ago, to a house bought by Van Rensselaer.

According to police reports, Van Rensselaer bought the house using his trust fund, and cashed checks from the fund for Oliver, who paid their bills.

Van Rensselaer told the police that Oliver did not let him eat, so he had taken $5 in change from Oliver's change can and bought a sandwhich, the report said.

"Oliver became upset and yelled that he was going to teach him a lesson about stealing," the report said.

Oliver and Martin drove Van Rensselaer to the garage in Rehoboth where they worked, A Auto and R.V. Hospital, on Fall River Avenue.

Van Rensselaer told the police that when they arrived at the garage, Oliver brought him to a "big" ramp truck, newly painted black and purple. "Oliver told Van Rensselaer to place his hand on the beam of the ramp truck and ... Martin operated the controls to lower the ramp onto Mr. Van Rensselaer's left hand until it hurt," the report said.

Martin turned up the radio to cover Van Rensselaer's screams.

They brought the ramp down on each foot, and on his head. Then, Martin used a blue, hand-held propane blowtorch to burn the boots and shirt he was wearing.

Van Rensselaer told the police that he feared the torture was a sample of more to come. Oliver told Van Rensselaer that they were going to hang him from the flatbed, douse him in gasoline, and set him on fire, according to the report.

The charges dragged out for nearly two years, until both Oliver and Martin pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Oliver's lawyer, Kenneth E. Fredette, declined to comment. Martin's lawyer, Anne W. Marsh, was unavailable on both Wednesday and Thursday, according to her Providence-based firm.

Martin was sentenced to two years of probation, and ordered to stay away from Van Rensselaer.

Oliver will be sentenced on Feb. 23. Assistant District Attorney Joseph D. Medeiros said his office will recommend jail time for Oliver.
 

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Retired Fed, Active Special
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Sick Mothers!
:2up:
Probation? Makes one wonder why we bother to come to work somedays!
:shock:
 

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Not being the overtly religious type, I truly believe there is a special level of hell for those who pick on others unable to defend themselves.
 

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SRRerg said:
Not being the overtly religious type, I truly believe there is a special level of hell for those who pick on others unable to defend themselves.
Right on!
I wonder if his being "mentally diminished" was an MR (CH.265 s.13F)
or disability (CH.265 s.13K) issue, both Felonies! It still pisses me off today!
:x

Probation! just pissa!
 

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probation?!?!? WTF!! Probation for any of these morons is a total insult to humanity.

Might as well give Saddam a term based on "time served"......
 
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