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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.

11 Comments

  1. sorry that should be should yet i said when this first happened to my g/f they will find anyone guilty in osewgo county right now and theres no one in this world right now that has cared more about this case than me but usually dna frees a man with none? wait no nothing? how do you convict? to get back to the point OSWEGO county is worse than jerry springer!!

  2. weather or not he killed that little girl. Each and every person who was made aware of the deplorable conditions she was forced to live in should be tried for criminal neglagance. every person who lived in that house and further every person who enterened that house and did or said nothing about the conditions is GUILTY. All who chose to ignore the conditoins should feel shamed and know that some day they will be tried for their depraved indifferance.

  3. good he definately got what he deserved, now let this little girl rest in peace. put the parents away too while they are at it, it didnt help that they lived in a deplorable house and treated that girl like she didnt even exsist what eleven year old deserves that? seriously just how bad could she have been, they just didnt want the responsibility of taking care of her. they should all 3 be put in prison.

  4. Due the neglegence of the oswego county child protection investigation unit this child is dead . Now because of the media coverage and the fire they are under every person even accused of child abuse in oswego county is under investigation. It is not our faults as parents that this happened to this child . I feel the court system should look on the inside of the county system and use those people as an example , Instead of a family who is obviously getting every charge possible thrown at them after the loss of a child . I really feel Lynn, Lindsey and Alan are the real victims in this case . With no dna , no proof of anything how could you as a good person sentence someone to a crime there is even reasonable doubt they even commited . So what if they had alot of animals or they were having hard times economically. that doesnt make them murderers… Nor should it make them accountable for something that was an accident . Everyone should let them grieve and put Erin to rest . That little girls soul deserves peace . So does everyone envolved

  5. I knew the outcome in this case when Alan was first arrested. He was a marked man and the fall guy for the failures of the parents and Social Services.

    The Media Frenzy drew out the vigilantes and from that point, Alan was already guilty. A fair trial buy his peers? It wasn’t going too happen. This trial should have been conducted in a county down state or out of state. Do I think he’s guilty? Maybe, or is he innocent, don’t know. You have conflicting testimony from two Medical Examiners. No DNA link to the alleged murder weapon. Inconclusive evidence which leaves reasonable doubt. This trial was conducted on theory only and was a farce.

  6. Last I checked dna evidence has only been widely uses for the past 19 years. DNA is just one piece of a puzzle that can be used by defense attorneys to cast doubt or by proaeutors to cast guilt. The absence of it simply means more traditional evidence is needed. This murder conviction does not require that type of evidence.

  7. Evidence was still inconclusive, DNA or not. Theory was still the only determining factor here. “Because I think you did it, you’re guilty” is not conclusive. This is not the old west……”Lets string him up….he was there …..he must be guilty” ……….That’s what we have here.

  8. You can not convict a person of murder because they’re house is filthy. Something has never set right with me about this case. It seems to me that anytime there’s an accident regarding a child, the police are quick to nail the family to the wall.
    No one wants to hear or see that a child has been hurt or killed! But please don’t turn into a lynching mob against the family. I think the Maxwell’s had everything going against them from the start….poverty and unsanitary living conditions. What the jury should have been looking for is the TRUTH, did the stepbrother willfully strangle his stepsister? But instead the man was convicted of MURDER by second degree for “depraved indifference”!! I’ve never heard of anything like this. If he saw that his step sister was accidently strangling herself and then just watched her die…that would be depraved indifference. But he was convicted on living in a deplorable conditions and that makes him depraved and indifferent and that caused Erin to strangle herself. And why would they pin this indifference on the stepbrother….because he found her?
    I think if you live in Oswego County you had better keep your house clean, you might not get a fair trial.

  9. The defense says Jones was incapable of expressing emotion properly and that’s why he didn’t get upset when told Erin died…yet when read the guilty verdict he sat down suddenly with his hands over his face… crying? Even Lanza and his mother said he was “emotional.” So he shows emotion or he doesn’t? OH I get it…he shows emotion when its his life we are talking about!

  10. Number 1 I think the whole family should be in jail. Lynn and Lyndsey were just as much at fault. Let them all rot. As far as the DSS, yeh they are doing a crappy job. I know too many cases that are being ignored. I guess we just have to wait until something serious happens to these children too. Rest in Pease ERIN and God bless you. YOU ARE DEFINITELY IN A MUCH BETTER PLACE and will be taken care of the way you should have. You know that God loves you.

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