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Guilty Verdict ‘Bittersweet’

OSWEGO, NY – Alan Jones’ conviction on second-degree murder by “depraved indifference” drew strong reactions this afternoon (Sept. 24).

From left, attorney Sal Lanza, John Jones, Lynn and Lindsay Maxwell leave Oswego County Court on Thursday afternoon.

From left, attorney Sal Lanza, John Jones, Lynn and Lindsay Maxwell leave Oswego County Court on Thursday afternoon.

Jones, 28, was found guilty of killing his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell last August.

It took the jury about 12 hours, over two days, to come to a unanimous verdict shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday.

“Nothing can bring Erin back. She suffered an awful fate. But this is a step in the direction of making him responsible for what he did to her,” Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd said outside the courtroom. “The jury spoke clearly, they spoke loudly; they said he did it, he’s guilty. And he was properly convicted.”

“There certainly was a lot of emotion, that’s for sure,” Dodd continued.

“I know I should be saying that we got justice for Erin,” said Colleen Scott of the Justice for Erin group. “But, I still feel that Erin will never have justice because Erin can never have her life back. She can never go back to being that 11-year-old girl.”

“I know you guys (media) probably all thought I’d be out here doing some kind of dance. But, it’s sad because one person is dead and another person’s going to spend the vast majority of their life in prison,” she continued.

“It’s difficult. I was a little bit surprised, but you know this is just a start of the appellate process,” said defense attorney Sal Lanza. “Remember all the cases the judge quoted … we’re talking about a depraved indifference case that was prosecuted as an intentional murder. Now, we’re going to see what the appellate division is going to do. We’re going to see what happens on appeal. But, was I surprised? Yeah, I’m a bit surprised.”

Lanza maintained that there was no DNA linking his client to the crime, “absolutely no evidence tying Alan to the crime; no confession, nothing.”

Jones was in shock when the verdict was read, his attorney said.

When the foreman of the 12-man jury announced the verdict, he looked directly at Jones, who sat down and covered his face with his hands.

“He is upset. He is in shock right now,” Lanza said of Jones.

Alan Jones' mother, Lynn Maxwell, speaks to the media after her son was found guilty of murder.

Alan Jones' mother, Lynn Maxwell, speaks to the media after her son was found guilty of murder.

Outside the courthouse, Jones’ mother, Lynn Maxwell, said her son was innocent and they’d continue to fight the charge – even if it takes 100 years.

“There was a lot of emotion in the county about this case, a lot of emotion,” Lanza said. “I don’t know, I just don’t know what the jury talked about. But, they’ve rendered their verdict. Now, it’s time for the appeal process.”

It’s hard to be in a position like a juror, he pointed out.

“It’s very difficult for people under a stressful situation, when you have maybe eight people against you, to try to defend your position. People start dropping like flies,” Lanza said. “They want to get out. They can’t stand the pressure.”

Lanza said he was “pretty confident” that the case will be reversed by the appellate division, like the other cases the judge had mentioned.

Lynn Maxwell said she was “expecting it.”

“This has been a hot case ever since it first started. The New York State Police blew it up into a huge case within hours of the accident,” she said. “Alan is 100 percent innocent. We just go until we prove it.”

Jones claims Erin accidentally hanged herself. The jury, however, believed the DA’s claim that Jones strangled Erin.

His mother said she believes the jury tried to do the right thing, “but this is a very emotional case. When you’ve heard other things, you just can’t unhear something; once something is said, once something is read, seen, it’s there.”

Scott said she did want someone held responsible, but the trial’s outcome is bittersweet, she admits.

“I had the same reaction here that I did in Palermo,” she said. “It made me sad; it made me want to cry.”

Erin’s father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn, were convicted of multiple child endangerment charges in August following a trial in Palermo Town Court. They are to be sentenced next month.

Their convictions are under appeal.

Colleen Scott, right, of the Justice for Erin group described the verdict as "bittersweet."

Colleen Scott, right, of the Justice for Erin group described the verdict as "bittersweet."

“Like Mark Moody (the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the Maxwells) said, it is a bittersweet victory. For the main reason that a child has been killed,” Scott said.

The group will continue, she added.

“We’ve made a lot of good friendships. And, it’s made us a lot more aware, too. More aware of how evil the world can be,” added Allison Ryder, another member of the group. “We all know, still, that Social Services need to be held accountable.

The county DSS has been under heavy fire since the death of the 11-year-old. The department’s handling of the case has been strenuously criticized, and many have sought to have the DSS commissioner removed.

“We all know what to do now, and I don’t care if you put this in the paper. We will never call DSS,” Ryder vowed. “We’ll call code enforcement and animal control. We have no faith in DSS.”

According to the police, the Maxwells’ lived in “deplorable” conditions with more than 100 cats living inside the home along with chickens and other barnyard animals.

The home was beset with piles of garbage and feces everywhere, authorities said.

The animal people would have taken the animals away – and in the process would have taken Erin away as well, Ryder noted.

“It’s sad that under our laws, something can be done quicker to help an animal than it can for a child,” she said. “That’s terrible.”

Jones is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 6.

He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.

DNA Experts Testify In Jones Case

OSWEGO, NY – Two experts from the New York State Police forensics center in Albany testified today (Sept. 16) about the green rope in the Alan Jones murder case.

Jones is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell.

According to Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd, Jones used the rope to strangle Erin on Aug. 29, 2008 in the Palermo home they shared. She died early the next day at a Syracuse hospital.

Jones has maintained Erin accidentally hanged herself by catching one end of the rope on a screw on her bedroom window.

State police forensic expert Stacy Rack testified that she discovered “three small, reddish brown spots” on the rope that killed Erin.

She described them as “tiny, like pinprick” spots.

Of the seven swabs she used to check the rope for blood, two came back positive.

The blood was located on the middle section of the rope, she testified.

DNA expert Lisa Sheridan, also of the forensics center, testified that Erin’s DNA was on the rope.

There wasn’t sufficient DNA to do a profile, but what was found was consistent with Erin’s DNA, Sheridan said.

Defense attorney Sal Lanza noted that no DNA belonging to his client was found on the rope. The witness said that was correct.

Earlier in the day, two New York State Police investigators testified about their interview with Jones on Sept. 11, 2008.

He gave inconsistent statements how he found Erin on Aug. 29, 2008, they said.

Previous testimony has indicated Jones said Erin appeared to be standing at the foot of her bed … her arms at her side.

On Wednesday morning, Investigator Michael Grande testified that Jones told him it looked like (Erin’s” “right hand was possibly clutching at the rope.”

In his 27 years with the State Police, Grande said he’s investigated 10 to 20 hangings.

He said he’d investigated 10 to 20 other hangings in 27 years as a trooper without seeing anyone hanged the way Jones said Maxwell was hanged.

The red marks on Erin’s neck were more consistent with strangulation, and not a hanging, the investigator noted.

If Erin had been hanged, the ligature marks on her neck would have been more vertical and closer to her mandible (jaw bone) than the marks seen on Erin in her autopsy photos, Grande pointed out.

Lanza put a similar style rope around his own neck to demonstrate that the marks in the autopsy photos were indeed consistent with his client’s version of events.

If Jones had forcibly strangled Erin, there would have been rope marks on his client’s hands, Lanza said, adding there were no such marks. He also reiterated his client’s DNA wasn’t found on the rope.

Testimony will continue Thursday. It will focus on the piece of window with the screw in it.

Judge Questions ‘Depraved Indifference’ Indictment

OSWEGO, NY – Steven Bourgeois returned to the witness stand today (Sept. 15)  in the Alan Jones murder trial.

However, as the state police senior investigator was about to testify to what Jones told him and how he reacted when the investigator informed him Erin Maxwell had died, defense attorney Sal Lanza objected.

The answer would have contained information about Jones’ religious belief, Lanza said. His client’s religious beliefs cannot be used against him, Lanza said.

District Attorney Donald Dodd intends to prove that Jones caused Erin’s death by strangling her and that she didn’t die due to an accidental hanging.

Jones was indicted on second degree murder, citing depraved indifference.

With the jury still out of the courtroom, Dodd questioned Bourgeois.

When the investigator told Jones Erin was dead, “he looked down and he looked back up. He didn’t respond,” the witness testified.”

When he asked Jones why he didn’t respond, the investigator said Jones replied, “People die … It’s no big deal. Everyone dies.”

“(Jones, a Pagan) said he did not view death the way Christians do,” the investigator added.

Lanza confirmed that his client views death differently than most people.

“There is something on the other side. You go somewhere, somewhere good. That’s his belief,” Lanza told the court regarding his client’s view of death.

Dodd contends Jones’ behavior proves his “depraved indifference” toward life.

When Jones was told in the early morning hours of Aug. 30, 2008, that Erin had died, (Jones) saw it as no big deal, the prosecutor said.

According to the indictment, Jones showed “depraved indifference” in causing Erin’s death.

Jones’ statements to Bourgeois, not long after Erin’s incident, shows depraved indifference, according to Dodd.

“(The jury) has to pass on his state of mind. How can (Jones’ statement) not be relevant?” the DA asked Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner.

There’s a difference between depraved indifference and intentional, the judge noted.

If Jones admitted to intentionally causing Erin’s death, the jury would have to find him not guilty because he isn’t charged with that, the judge postulated.

Hafner is basing his opinion on a ruling by the Court of Appeals, which states specific criteria by which a defendant can be found guilty of “depraved indifference murder.”

Turning to his client, Lanza said, “I could put you on the stand right now, and if you admit to intentionally killing Erin, the jury must come back with a verdict of not guilty. Do you understand what I’m saying? I did it intentionally, I was upset.”

The judge reminded the defense attorney about the possible perjury situation.

His client wasn’t going to do it, Lanza said, adding it would be a lie and Jones wasn’t going to lie.

“We’re going to fight this all the way,” Lanza said.

“You have no concept; you have some kind of mental block between depraved indifference and intentional murder. It’s clear to this court,” Hafner chastised Dodd.

It’s intentional murder if it’s one-on-one no matter if the weapon is a gun, a rope, a knife or flip-flops, Hafner noted.

“I’m not going to tell you how to prosecute your case,” the judge added.

Lanza’s objection was sustained and the jury returned to the courtroom after about an hour delay.

“So much for getting an early start,” Hafner said.

Bourgeois testified about how Jones was interviewed several times on Aug. 29, 30 and Sept. 11 of last year.

It was because some of his statements to police were “suspicious,” he said.

Lanza describe the multiple interviews as a police technique where investigators try to confuse suspects into saying what they want them to.

Bourgeois said he found it suspicious that Jones said he heard Erin in the kitchen call to him from her bedroom asking for her supper but didn’t hear anything when she was likely “thrashing around, fighting for her life.”

Lanza asked why his client had been interrogated over and over.

“It wasn’t an interrogation,” Bourgeois replied. “It was the start of the investigation into the death of a young girl. We wanted to get the facts straight as best we could. It was the beginning of the investigation.”

“It was the beginning of hell for my client! He’s been in that jail for a year,” Lanza said.

Testimony will continue Wednesday in Oswego County Court.

State Troopers Take The Stand In Jones Case

OSWEGO, NY – Two members of the State Police testified today (Sept. 14) regarding their interaction with Alan Jones last August.

Jones, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of his 11-year-old stepsister, Erin Maxwell.

Trooper Shawn Finkle, the first officer to arrive at the Maxwell residence after Erin was found unresponsive on Aug. 29, 2008.

He testified that Jones said he found Erin hanging from a green rope when he took her supper to her room.

He took her down, called 911 and started doing CPR (as instructed by the 911 operator) as best he could, the trooper said Jones told him.

The trooper also testified that Jones “appeared to be calm” while he was talking with him.

State Police Investigator Karl Stonebarger testified that Jones told him he didn’t realize at first that Erin had been asphyxiated.

When she didn’t respond to his call, Jones walked into her bedroom, she wasn’t facing him, and shook her trying to get a response, the investigator said.

It wasn’t until Jones turned Erin around that he noticed her face was blue and there was a rope around her neck, Stonebarger added.

“It was as if she was just standing there,” Stonebarger said Jones told him. “He said he believed she was twirling the rope around (like a cowboy’s lasso) when it got caught on the screw and tightened around her neck. He kept repeating that it was an accident.”

Under direct examination by Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd, Stonebarger testified that Jones “appeared nervous.”

Defense Attorney Sal Lanza objected and Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner sustained the objection.

“You are asking for opinions and conclusions,” Hafner said. “Explain to your witness that he can’t give opinions.

The jury can’t hear opinions regarding Jones’ demeanor because it is not part of the theory of the crime, the judge told the prosecutor.

“The rules of evidence apply to both of you,” Hefner added. “It is for the jury to decide the facts.”

“I don’t tell the witnesses what to say,” Dodd said.

“But, you prep them,” Hafner pointed out.

Stonebarger said that Jones was taken to the Fulton State Police barracks for further questioning because of inconsistencies in his statements.

Stonebarger testified Jones said he hadn’t seen Erin since shortly before he called 911. And, Stonebarger said Jones also said he hadn’t spoken to Erin in about an hour or an hour and 20 minutes.

“Seeing and talking are different,” Lanza said. “So what was inconsistent?”

The investigator explained that it was in regard to when Jones last had contact with his stepsister.

At the start of court today, Lanza noted that he had re-examined his list of potential witnesses.

At the start of the trial, the prosecution said it plans to call about 20 witnesses; Lanza said he planned on calling around 33.

Pointing out the some of the names on his list are the same as those on Dodd’s, Lanza said he has reduced his list.

“I have pared it down some,” he said. “I’ve cut it back to maybe about 11, definitely under 15.”

Testimony will resume Tuesday in Oswego County Court.

Illegal Search Ruling Brings Fine, Not Prison In Phoenix Drug Case

OSWEGO, NY – Howard Middleton could have gone to prison for a long time for growing marijuana in his Phoenix home. Instead, he pleaded guilty to a violation, paid a fine and walked out of court because a judge ruled police did not have the right to search his home.

Howard Middleton

Howard Middleton

Middleton, 23, was arrested Jan. 11 after police discovered more than 100 fully grown marijuana plants in his home. He was indicted March 18 on one count of second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and one count of unlawfully growing cannabis.

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd explained that Middleton pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to one violation count of unlawful possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to a $100 fine and a $95 court surcharge.

“His plea flowed from the court’s decision to grant a request to suppress evidence,” Dodd explained.

Police originally visited Middleton’s home at 139 Huntley Road in the town of Schroeppel after receiving tips that a man they were searching for on a warrant may have been there.

Middleton allowed police to enter his home, where police saw a marijuana plant in a white bucket in his kitchen. Police then asked Middleton to open a locked door to another room, where they discovered the marijuana growing operation.

Middleton’s attorney, Paul Carey, filed a motion to suppress both the drug evidence and oral statements that his client gave police. Carey’s motion included several requests, including:

  • A motion for the court to review grand jury minutes to determine if the grand jury process was defective
  • A motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient
  • A motion to suppress the drug evidence
  • A motion to suppress oral and written statements

Dodd said that his office objected to the motion, citing a “plain view exception” to the rules for search. He explained that if police have a reason to be somewhere and see something illegal, like drugs, in plain view, they don’t have to leave to obtain a warrant.

Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner Jr., denied Carey’s first two motions, ruling that the grand jury process was “proper in all respects” and that the evidence was sufficient.

A joint suppression hearing was held in August to determine whether the drug evidence and statements would be allowed. Three officers testified for the prosecution during the hearing to the events that resulted in Middleton’s arrest.

By letter Aug. 18, Carey notified the judge that he wouldn’t be calling witnesses because he believed the people did not meet the burden to show “the legality of the warrantless search” of Middleton’s residence.

In a lengthy written decision, Hafner said that once Middleton told police he did not know the person that they were seeking, the people needed to prove that the officer had a “founded suspicion that criminal activity was afoot” to ask permission to enter his home.

The DA’s office argued that the officer’s threat of obtaining a search warrant did not negate the fact that Middleton consented to the search.

“The fact that those threats were made is a factor for the court to consider,” Hafner wrote.

“No court would have legally issued a search warrant based on unreliable and non-specific information possessed by (the officer) at the time he threatened to obtain a search warrant if the defendant did not consent to the entry of his residence,” Hafner said.

“The people failed to meet the burden of proof that the defendant’s search to his residence was made voluntarily,” he added. Hafner ruled that all evidence and statements were suppressed on the basis that they were the “derivative product of the illegal search.”

Dodd says that whether a search warrant would have been granted is not the issue. He explained that the fact that police had a reason to be there and Middleton allowed officers entry should have been the only consideration.

Once inside, Dodd said he maintains that the plain view exception ultimately negated the original reason police were there once they saw marijuana out in the open.

“That gave police the proper basis to search without a warrant,” Dodd said. “The good judge says otherwise. … We still had an indictment but we had no evidence to prove the indictment. The decision took away our proof so we basically found something that he would plead guilty to.”

Though disappointed with the outcome of the case, Dodd said there was one positive.

“The Phoenix police department took a lot of dope off the street,” Dodd said.

At the time of Middleton‘s arrest, Phoenix Police Chief Rod Carr said that each plant would yield one-half to three-quarters of a pound of marijuana. He said that the street value of one pound of marijuana is approximately $1,500 to $2,000.

Judge Won’t Lower Bail In Maxwell Case

OSWEGO, NY – Alan Jones was arraigned in Oswego County Court on Wednesday.

Alan Jones, left, appears in court with his lawyer, Sal Lanza.

Alan Jones, left, appears in court with his lawyer, Sal Lanza.

Jones, Erin Maxwell’s step-brother, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly causing the injuries that resulted in the death of the 11-year-old Palermo girl.

The child’s father and step-mother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, sat shackled in the jury box. They are charged with six counts of endangering the welfare of a child because of the conditions Erin lived in prior to her death.

The family’s attorney, Sal Lanza, sought to have the bail lowered for the Maxwells.

They haven’t been in trouble with the law previously, aren’t a flight risk and are having trouble making ends meet, Lanza said arguing they should be released on their own recognizance.

Judge Walter Hafner ordered the trio held in Oswego County Jail, and their bail was continued – $100,000 cash or $250,000 bond for Jones and $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond each for the Maxwells.

Citing what he calls an on-going feud between the judge and certain members of the District Attorney’s Office, Lanza sought to have the case moved to Onondaga County.

“This is ridiculous. My client is sitting in jail while you’re having a dispute,” Lanza said.

“I’m not having a dispute at all, Mr. Lanza,” Hafner said.

“This is not ridiculous,” added DA Donald Dodd.

“We need another judge and another district attorney on this. That is what we need,” Lanza continued.

Erin Maxwell's father and step-mother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, sit shackled in the jury box awaiting their turn before the judge.

Erin Maxwell's father and step-mother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, sit shackled in the jury box awaiting their turn before the judge.

His clients are indigent, Lanza said.

“When they come out, they will have nothing, nothing, not even the clothes on their back,” he said.

“There is an on-going dispute, grievances have been filed,” Lanza continued outside the courtroom. “I don’t see this when I travel to Cayuga County, Cortland County, Oneida County, Jefferson County and certainly in Onondaga County. I just don’t see it. But it happens here and it’s gotta stop.”

Throughout his time in court, Lanza also repeatedly made comments expressing his angry at not being notified that his clients were being arrested early Tuesday. He found out through a phone call from a friend.

“(Jones) cooperated with state troopers. He made what maybe two statements; he was with them for over 12 hours. I don’t know if he failed (a polygraph test). All I know is, from him telling me, is that he went through the polygraph test and then the state troopers took him outside and then brought him back into a room for further questioning,” the attorney said.

He thinks the DA has “very weak evidence.”

The family claims Erin’s death was accidental.

“The police dispute that,” Lanza said. “How are they going to prove this case? There is no video, no audio tape, there’s no eye witness and there is no confession. So what do they have? They have a dead body. They have a rope, a green colored rope, the medical examiner’s report.”

They threw the window frame out (that she allegedly was hanging from), Lanza added.

“So what is the evidence going to be here? The evidence is going to be if I put my client on the stand he is going to testify, ‘I am innocent. This is how I found her,'” he said.

The police will claim there are inconsistencies with Jones’ story, he continued.

The window frame, according to Lanza, is the key.

“When you look at the weight of the evidence in this case, it is weak; slim to none,” Lanza claimed. “It’s going to be he said, he said. The state police saying one thing and my experts, and this defendant if he takes the stand, saying another thing.”

Jones’ bail was set too high, Lanza asking the judge to release him on his own recognizance. “He’s not going anywhere, judge,” Lanza said.

“I’m a little surprised (the Maxwells’ bail wasn’t reduced),” Lanza said. “I knew that the bail for second-degree murder would probably stay as is, that is an A felony. But as for the misdemeanor charges of endangering, I thought that the judge would let both of the parents out so they could take care of their affairs at home, not lose everything. It is kind of high bail; it should have been maybe $500 cash/$1,000 bond.”

Both parents were arraigned Tuesday in Palermo Town Court.

Lanza said he didn’t like what the bail was; he thought the bail was too high, so he made an application for a review of bail by the higher court.

“This is going to be trial. An ordinary murder trial in Syracuse starts at about $25, 000 to $50,000. These people don’t have $100 to their name. She hasn’t been working because of what’s transpired,” Lanza said. “The judge has assigned me to this case, so I am going to be representing them.”

DA Dodd spoke briefly with the media after court.

“There are laws that dictate the manner in which cases are handled. This particular case, procedurally, will go in that particular direction. Issues arise at different times; it is not uncommon in any case for issues to arise. Attorneys are entitled to argue whatever particular point it is that they feel is appropriate,” Dodd explained.

“We don’t try cases in the press. It’s fair for you folks to ask. Whenever I or someone on behalf of our office appears in court on a matter, we are very careful in the language that we use,” the DA told reporters. “Ultimately, the jury decides this. It is not for me to put anything in the minds of prospective jurors. That is to ensure that fairness prevails for everyone.”
“Could I (talk more about the people’s evidence)? Absolutely. Am I going to – no.
The defendant has a series of rights; our office has and will continue to do everything that we can make sure the rights are available to him. Ultimately, juries decide this; not what I say, or what Mr. Lanza says.  If needs dictate, a jury will decide it,” Dodd said. “As to specific forms of evidence, it’s absolutely improper for me to comment on that. That’s unfair. If I say something to (the media) it’s out in the public domain. It may or may not be heard by a jury. That’s a procedure we will continue to follow.”

Police: Arrests Bring ‘Justice For Erin’

VOLNEY, NY – Erin Maxwell was a bright, warm and friendly little girl who loved to read, state police Captain Mark Lincoln said Tuesday.

Before she died Aug. 30, Lincoln said the 11-year-old lived in difficult conditions at her home on Route 264 with her father, step-mother and step brother.

Early Tuesday morning, police arrested Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, charging each with six counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Alan Jones was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly causing Erin’s death. The Onondaga County Medical Examiner ruled Erin’s death a homicide; the result of asphyxia.

“Today is about Erin Maxwell,” Lincoln said during a press conference (full video below) that was held to announce the arrests.

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd and state police Captain Mark Lincoln discuss arrests made in the Erin Maxwell death investigation.

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd and state police Captain Mark Lincoln discuss arrests made in the Erin Maxwell death investigation.

During the past five weeks, Lincoln said investigators learned “troubling details” about the life Erin was living prior to her death.

Lincoln explained that Erin was being raised in a home with over 100 cats and caged poultry. The home reeked of cat urine. Feces was piled over 18 inches deep in one of the rooms at the home.

“Our investigation has revealed… that Erin was provided with only minimal amounts of food,” Lincoln said. “It’s also been revealed that Erin was routinely locked in a small bedroom approximately 5:30 p.m. where she was to remain overnight each evening.”

Lincoln noted that economic hardship cannot be used to answer why the Maxwells lived as they did.

“Those of us in law enforcement come across many families who face economic challenges,” Lincoln said. “The overwhelming majority of these families do the best the can to raise their children in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. The endangering charges suggest that this effort was not being made for Erin at 1678 Route 264.”

Lincoln noted that Jones and the Maxwells were arrested at their new residence at 427 Silk Road, Lot 12, in Volney at approximately 8 a.m.

“(The displayed) no reaction, no emotion this morning during the arrest,” he said.

Lindsey Maxwell

Lindsey Maxwell

Lindsey and Lynn were arraigned in Palermo Town Court and remanded to the Oswego County Correctional Facility in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 secured bail bond.

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd explained that said the six endangerment charges represent different time frames and different courses of conduct that spanned a series of months.

Jones was arraigned in Oswego County Court on an indictment from the Grand Jury. He was remanded to the county jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 secured bail bond.

“It is now a pending criminal case,” Dodd said. “It went to county court by way of a vote of the grand jury. A not guilty plea was entered. The matter is returnable tomorrow in Oswego County Court.”

Jones has no prior arrest or conviction record in New York state, nor is the county aware of any arrest or conviction record in any other state, Dodd said.

“All of those matters are now pending criminal cases,” Dodd said. “By reason of the fact that they are now pending, as a district attorney it is ethically not proper for me to comment on the quality of the evidence or the quantity of the evidence.”

Dodd said he would not address specific forms of evidence in the case. He pointed out that in any death investigation, the agency involved strives to develop both accurate and reliable information.

Alan Jones is escorted to the state police barracks after his arraignment in Oswego County Court.

Alan Jones is escorted to the state police barracks after his arraignment in Oswego County Court.

“There is no timeline that attaches to that,” he said. “The test is accuracy and reliability. It takes the time necessary to accomplish those particular objectives.”

While the medical examiner listed “sexual trauma” as a contributing factor in the child’s death, no sexually-related charges were brought forward in the arrests.

“Sexual trauma is not addressed in any court documents,” Lincoln said. “We are aware that that is out there. We don’t anticipate charging any other subjects in this case at this time.”

Dodd noted that any decision on motive will be made by a jury if the case advances to a courtroom.

“I know people wish to know what happened and why, and motive goes to why,“ Dodd said. “Ultimately the motive will be decided by a jury if we get to that particular procedure.”

Salvatore Lanza, the attorney for the Maxwell family, pointed out Friday that police were investigating the case in the state of Nevada, as well. The child spent the summer there with Lindsey Maxwell’s family.

Tuesday, Lincoln said, “We have no evidence to suggest they should be suspects.”

Lynn Maxwell

Lynn Maxwell

Because of the nature of the investigation, Lincoln said investigators were determined to bring it to a successful conclusion.

“Certainly, most of the investigators have children of their own and we have a soft spot for 11 year olds that are in circumstances such as this,” Lincoln said. “It certainly gives them a resolve to get to the bottom of what happened and to get some justice for Erin.”

[MEDIA=80]

Arnold Granted Conditional Release

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – The former daycare provider who was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child earlier this year has been released from the Oswego County jail.

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A file photo of Audrey Arnold as she entered court for sentencing in June.

Audrey Arnold, who was found guilty March 31 after a four-day trial, was sentenced to serve one year in jail June 3; convicted of causing injuries to Fajo Edward while he was in her care May 31, 2006. Fajo was three-months old at the time.

“She was released Sept. 12,” Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd confirmed this week.

Todd explained that a board from the state parole department is occasionally called to the county correctional facility to evaluate inmates for possible early release.

“We don’t have (a board) locally so the state does it,” Todd said. “They met with her and decided she should be released. … They sent me an order.

“I don’t have anything to do with it,” Todd noted.

Todd said that Arnold applied to the board to have her case evaluated. The order he received said that Arnold was grated “local conditional release” by the state board of parole, under the authority of New York State penal law and New York State executive law.

“She will be on parole until her time is served,” Todd said. “If she violates that in any way, shape or manner, she will have to come back to jail.”

Reached at home this morning, Arnold declined comment.

Contacted at home Tuesday evening, Fajo’s parents said it was the first time they had heard that Arnold was out of jail.

“We were never contacted,” Lizette Alvarado said. She declined to say more, leaving any further comment to Fajo’s father, Elroy Edwards.

Edwards said he was hesitant to believe Arnold had been released.

“I don’t believe that has happened,” Edward said late Tuesday evening. He said he planned to verify the information before discussing the matter further.

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd, who prosecuted Arnold, also said Tuesday evening that it was the first he’d heard that Arnold had been released.

Dodd stressed, however, that the view of the victim should be taken into consideration in any review process for possible early release. When he learned that Alvarado and Edwards had not been contacted as part of Arnold’s review, Dodd did not mask his disappointment.

“That strikes me as fundamentally unfair,” Dodd said. “They should have been given notice.”

Dr. Wayne Farnsworth of Oswego Hospital’s emergency department testified that, in his opinion, Fajo suffered from Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The boy’s parents have explained that he is permanently disabled and will require life-long care. Two years after the day he was taken from Arnold‘s home-based daycare to the hospital, Fajo remained unable to crawl, talk or feed himself. He is blind and, according to some medical professionals, may not live to the age of 5, his mother said after the trial.

Arnold testified that she shook Fajo “gently,” and according to a “Shake and Shout” CPR procedure she learned. A CPR instructor testified for the prosecution that she had never heard of such a procedure.

Officials Update Homicide Investigation

FULTON, NY – Two weeks since the death of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell, state police still have little to say about why the girl is dead. They won’t comment about potential suspects related to her death.

They are, however, revealing a few more details about the conditions that she lived under at 1678 state Route 264 in Palermo.

<p>Lt. Troy Little</p>

Lt. Troy Little

During a brief press conference at the Fulton barracks today, Lieutenant Troy Little of Troop D’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations said Erin was at home with her step-brother, 27-year-old Alan Jones, Aug. 29. Little confirmed that Jones called 911 at 5:21 p.m.

When emergency workers arrived, Erin was taken first to A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital. She was then transported to University Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries, Little said.

Since that day, police have investigated the child’s death as a homicide. Little said that the investigation process was delayed by the number of animals found at the home. He pointed out that approximately 100 live cats have been removed from the Maxwell home.

“Eighty (cats) were confined to the master bedroom,” he said. Others were in cages. Another 10 or 12 were allowed to roam free in the house, in addition to two or three chickens. Other animals removed from the property include a dog, a snake, a pig and an emu.

Little added that 12 dead kittens were removed from the Maxwell’s freezer.

“(Lindsey Maxwell, the child’s father) said the kittens were still born over the winter,” Little explained. Maxwell told police that the ground was frozen and that the kittens were put in the freezer until they could be buried.

Little also said that there was no garbage removal from the Maxwell home. Trash was stored on the porch, he said.

Two members of the state police forensic team were scratched by cats at the home. Another officer was badly bitten.

“They are now starting the rabies series,” Little said. He noted that another officer who was trying to retrieve a cat was urinated on by the animal.

Little would not comment on how Erin died. While he confirmed that an autopsy is complete, he declined to provide any details about the findings. He did confirm, however, that officials with the Department of Social Services had been contacted about the Maxwell home.

“We know (Child Protective Services) had complaints regarding this household,” Little said. He declined to discuss the results of CPS’ involvement.

<p>Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd</p>

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd stressed that the child’s death is the principal focus. Once the facts of the case are completely developed, he said officials will move onto the next phase, or “what conclusion is supported by the facts.”

“There is no disclosure that we’re going to make,” Dodd said.

Dodd also told reporters that officials cannot offer a timeline for the case.

“You can’t rush being thorough,” he said.

Asked if Jones is a person of interest in the case, Dodd said anyone who is with a person at the time of their death is a person police will interview.

“It is important to note the process is ongoing,” Dodd said. “We are talking with people who can reliably give us information. … We will take the time necessary to do it.

“It is incorrect and wrong to tell people what we think happened,” he added.

The Maxwell home has been condemned. Little said while the family is permitted to enter the home and remove belongings, they are not permitted to live at the residence.

Little also said Erin’s biological mother has been located and notified of the child’s death.

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