Judge Admonishes Spectator At Jones Trial

OSWEGO, NY – Alan Jones’ murder trial will resume on Monday morning.

Jones, 28, of Palermo, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 11-year-old stepsister, Erin Maxwell, last August.

Tensions have been running high ever since the trial got under way Sept. 8.

When one of the attorneys makes a questionable comment, the other objects and the judge makes a ruling.

However, when a spectator makes an objectionable remark, the judge moves swiftly to ensure order isn’t lost in the courtroom.

Such was the case Friday afternoon; it was the second time Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner took exception to the behavior by someone in the public gallery at the courtroom.

During the afternoon break, before the jury re-entered the courtroom, Hafner admonished one of the spectators after receiving complaints about her conduct for other sources and hearing her himself.

“When the jury’s in the courtroom, you’re a spectator and you will be quiet!” he reprimanded the woman. “I’ve had it! This is your last warning.”

Her actions and what she was saying (loud enough to be overheard by members of the jury) could prejudice the jury, the judge told her.

“Judge, I want her removed!” an agitated Sal Lanza (defense attorney) chimed in.

“Mr. Lanza, be quiet. I’m taking care of this,” the judge replied.

This was the same woman who was causing problems at Palermo Town Court during the trial of Erin’s father, Lindsey, and stepmother, Lynn, Lanza pointed out.

“Once more, and you’re out of here. Got that?” the judge told the offender.

She nodded her head yes.

“I want her incarcerated,” Lanza persisted. “I want her in jail.”

“Let’s be realistic, Mr. Lanza,” Hafner said.

The woman sat mute with her arms folded across her chest for the remainder of the afternoon’s proceedings.

Judge Hafner already instructed the jury to disregard any comments by spectators once during this trial.

The trial recessed for the weekend without further interruptions.

Erin was found unresponsive in her bedroom on Aug. 29, 2008. She died the next morning at a Syracuse hospital.

Her father and stepmother are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 12 on the endangering conviction.

If convicted, Jones faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.