Alan Jones goes on trial beginning Tuesday morning for the death of his stepsister, Erin Maxwell.
The trial begins with jury selection before Judge Walter Hafner. District Attorney Donald Dodd and defense lawyer Sal Lanza will pick the 12 jurors and 2 alternates who will hear the evidence and decide whether Jones is guilty or not guilty.
Erin Maxwell died just over a year ago in her bedroom in a run down farmhouse in Palermo. Jones was alone with her at the time of her death. Her father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, were at Walmart to buy an air mattress to temporarily replace the waterbed that had sprung a leak.
Jones told police Erin appeared to have hanged herself. An autopsy called it homicide. She died, according to the autopsy, from asphyxiation and had also suffered some form of sexual abuse.
Jones has maintained his innocence, leading to this trial.
It’s fairly rare for criminal cases to go to trial. Typically, there is a confession and a plea bargain to avoid a trial.
This trial could take some time. Lanza represented the Maxwells as they fought misdemeanor charges of endangering Erin’s welfare by having her live in a home with feces from more than 60 cats throughout, and by having locks on the outside of her bedroom door.
The Maxwells were found guilty after a trial in Palermo Town Court that took more than 50 hours.
Erin’s death caused the creation of a citizens’ group, Justice For Erin, which had a strong presence at the Maxwells’ trial and has called for the firing of the county’s Social Services Commissioner. The group is expected to fill seats at Alan Jones’ trial, too.