Engineering Professor: Screw Could Have Supported Erin’s Weight

OSWEGO, NY – An engineering professor said today (Sept. 21) Erin Maxwell could have hanged herself from the screw in her bedroom window frame.

Eugene Camerota teaches at Onondaga Community College and is a consulting engineer, as well.

Camerota testified this afternoon at the Alan Jones murder trial.

Jones, 28, is charged in connection with his stepsister’s death last August. The prosecution claims Jones strangled the 11-year-old. The defense maintains she accidentally hung herself while playing with a green rope in her bedroom.

Camerota said after examining pieces of Erin’s bedroom window frame (at the State Police barracks), he created an exact replica to test.

He mounted it in a casing in his lab, used a similar rope, and applied 70 pounds of weight to it.

The screw held, he said, pointing out that Erin weighed 65 pounds.

Using several different calculations, he tested other scenarios; in all but one, Erin’s feet would have been off the floor, he testified.

Earlier, Erin’s father, Lindsey Maxwell wrapped up his testimony.

Under questioning by Jones’ lawyer Sal Lanza, Maxwell recounted the last time he saw Erin was in the hospital while the doctors were working on her.

They told him she was brain dead, he added.

After Erin was taken to Upstate, he said he sat with her and held her hand.

“You saw her pass?” Lanza asked.

“Yes,” Maxwell replied, tears beginning to well up in his eyes. “I held her as long as I could.”

Maxwell also told of how the state police came back to question him in their “mobile office.” However, when he got into the car, they sped away, taking him to the North Syracuse State Police barracks for further questioning, he said.

Lanza asked why he got in the car in the first place.

“They’re state police officers, what am I going to do?” Maxwell responded.

The attorney asked him to describe the relationship between Erin and Jones. They were friends, Maxwell said.

Erin’s father testified that he never saw the green rope that was found around his daughter’s neck; he said he never saw it and doesn’t know where it might have come from.

Jones’ father, John, also took the witness stand today.

He said his son taught himself to read at age 3 and was an A student in the elementary grades.

Alan had several medical issues, he added, but described him as “a happy child” and “an outgoing child.”

He was at times the target of bullying by other kids when he reached middle school. However, his father told of one incidence he saw where his son got up and walked away rather than fight his tormentors.

Alan is very intelligent and can debate on any issue, his father testified.

“He tends to get over my head sometimes in debates,” he noted.

When district attorney Donald Dodd sought to object, Lanza explained that “(Alan’s) not Attila the Hun. I want the jury to know him.”

Also testifying today was a Registered Nurse from Upstate.

Judith Smith recounted Erin’s condition when she arrived. The nurse also told about how the Maxwells handled Erin’s situation.

They sat at Erin’s bedside, “appropriately concerned,” she noted. “They were tearful, and aware of the grave situation,” she added.

Carrie Fellows, a paralegal who works in Lanza’s office testified about Erin’s injuries from her expertise as a retired nurse. Fellows worked at various hospitals and retired from Oswego Hospital as director of nursing.

She noted that some of the injuries seen on Erin’s body were possibly the result of medical intervention.

Testimony will resume Tuesday morning.