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Jury Continues To Deliberate Jones’ Fate

OSWEGO, NY – The jury in the Alan Jones murder case deliberated for four hours Wednesday afternoon without reaching a verdict.

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

This afternoon, the jury requested to view all the exhibits in evidence. That includes hundreds of photographs, the green rope, pieces of the window frame and much more.

They also asked for a readback of testimony from the two forensic experts from the Albany crime lab who performed the DNA and blood analysis on the green rope.

Jurors also want to hear the testimony from the three state troopers who told about Jones’ observations of how and when he found Erin hanging in her bedroom.

The jurors were excused for the day shortly before 5 p.m. They will receive the materials first thing on Thursday morning when they resume deliberating.

For nearly three solid hours Wednesday morning, jurors heard defense attorney Sal Lanza and prosecutor Donald Dodd present their closing statements.

Lanza said Erin died accidentally after she hanged herself in her bedroom acting out a scene from one of her favorite movies, “Pirates of the Caribbean III.”

Dodd said Jones strangled the girl.

In his closing statement, Lanza asked the jurors to consider, “Would an individual who just killed another individual call 911 and ask for direction on how to perform CPR? Is that realistic?”

He also told the 12 men on the panel to remember, his client’s DNA wasn’t found on the green rope that was around Erin’s neck. Only her DNA was there, he pointed out.

With the exception of the ligature marks on her neck, rescue personnel said they saw no injuries to Erin’s body, he said. They also testified that Jones had no injuries, he continued.

All the statements his client gave to police were consistent, Lanza said.

“How many times do you have to say it? How much is enough?” he said referring to the multiple times Jones was interviewed by police.

The state police didn’t perform any tests on the rope, the screw or the window frame, Lanza told the jurors.

He also sought to discredit Dr. Mary Jumbelic, the medical examiner who performed Erin’s autopsy.

She never went to the scene and never saw the rope, he said.

“The photo documentation (of Erin’s autopsy) by Mary Jumbelic and the state police was horrible!” he said. “One photo of the back of the neck, in a case like this? What’s that all about?”

He also said the ME noted a large bore catheter was placed in one of the child’s legs. However, it was nowhere to be seen in the photos.

“Is she making things up as she goes along?” he said.

The doctor also sent an associate to a meeting with state police and “never briefed him,” the defense attorney reminded the jurors.

According to Lanza, Jumbelic completed her report without knowing all the facts.

He urged the jurors to use common sense and find Jones not guilty.

The district attorney reminded the jurors that Dr. Jumbelic, and the state police, aren’t on trial.

The reason Dr. Jumbelic didn’t go to the meeting with state police herself was that she was hospitalized, Dodd explained.

Her associate relied on her notes when he briefed the state police, Dodd said, adding the same notes that the defense’s witness (Dr. William Manion) used as the basis of his testimony.

Jones was alone in the house with Erin, Dodd said.

None of the first responders saw the green rope on her bed. A trooper noticed it later, Dodd said inferring the defendant would have had time to place it on the bed.

He also said there was “undisturbed dust” reported on the sill of the window Erin was found hanging from. If she was fighting for her life, he said, that dust surely would have been disturbed.

The defendant said he could see into Erin’s room but didn’t notice she had a rope around her neck until he was right beside her, Dodd pointed out.

State police testified that they could see clearly into Erin’s bedroom, and see the window, Dodd said.

“What do you think?” he asked the jurors, showing them one of the photos depicting a view into the child’s bedroom. “Could you see a green rope against the purple background of this room?”

He described the defendant’s version of what happened to Erin as “a story.”

Jones had said he was bringing Erin a bowl of Spaghetti-os when he found her. He also said he put the bowl on the bed, and another time he said on the floor, the prosecutor said.

“Look at the physical evidence,” Dodd said pointing to another photo. “It’s on the dresser.”

“All of Erin’s weight was hanging on a rope around her neck,” Dodd said quoting Jones’ statement to police.

“If that were true, she’d be on the bed,” he continued. “Things hang straight down.”

Erin had suffered a bad injury, their parents were coming home and Jones had to come up with a story to explain it, Dodd said eliciting a quick objection from Lanza.

“He’s shifting the burden on to my client,” Lanza told Judge Walter Hafner.

In court, the burden to prove someone’s guilt remains with the prosecution.

Hafner sustained the objection and added Dodd’s comment was “totally inappropriate.”

“This was no accident. It was just what Dr. Jumbelic told you, strangulation,” Dodd told the jurors.

Jones acted with depraved indifference, Dodd said. He placed the rope around Erin’s neck and tightened it long enough and hard enough to cause her death, he continued. “It wasn’t his intent to kill Erin. But by holding that rope long enough and hard enough, he displayed depraved indifference.”

“A trial is a search for the truth. You now know what the truth is. Tell the defendant you know what the truth is,” he concluded.