OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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.