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.