Bryan Belrad said his statements to police about the death of stepsister Erin Maxwell and the conditions in her home were inaccurate.
Belrad is the son of Lynn Maxwell, on trial along with husband Lindsey for allegedly endangering Erin by keeping her in a house with more than 60 cats and by having two locks on the outsides of her two bedroom doors.Ã‚Â The Maxwells are not charged with Erin’s death last August 29.Ã‚Â Lynn’s son, Alan Jones, stands trial in September for allegedly sexually assaulting and killing the 11 year old girl.
Belrad’s claim is nearly identical to the claim of Lynn Maxwell.Ã‚Â Both said there were things in the statements given to police that were not true or were exaggerations.
The house was cluttered, Belrad testified.Ã‚Â Calling it a mess, as it is in his written statment, “is fudging it.”
The statement said that the cat urine odor was “strong” in the house.Ã‚Â “The emphasis was added” by police, Belrad said.
Belrad said he spent about 40 minutes giving State Police investigators the statement and another two hours checking and revising it with them before he signed it.Ã‚Â Prosecutor Mark Moody asked how Belrad, a freelance writer with many articles and two self-published books to his credit, could have allowed so many errors to remain in a two-page statement.
“I didn’t consider (the statement) as important as those other documents (his articles and books),” he said.Ã‚Â “Some of my work was more important.”
Belrad’s statement was given on August 29, while Erin was still in the hospital.Ã‚Â She would die the next day but was gravely ill.Ã‚Â Lynn Maxwell testified that she believed Erin died before pardamedics even got to the house, as Erin was being kept alive at the hospital by machines.
Later, Belrad said that he was in a hurry to pick up his brother, who was at another State Police station giving a statement, and get to the hospital.Ã‚Â “I believe I had spent enough time on the statement,” he said, adding that it was “close enough”.
“At the time, I had good faith in the police,” he said.Ã‚Â “I did not feel theneed to nitpick every single item.”
“Two hours to review the statement,” asked Moody, “and you didn’t feel the need to nitpick?”
Belrad also refused to call the automatic gate latch and sliding barrel lock on Erin’s doors “locks”.Ã‚Â “I would describe them as latches because they don’t lock,” he said. “She was not locked in the room because there were no locks on the doors.”
Lindsey Maxwell took the stand next.
He described his daily cleaning and maintenance routine at the house.Ã‚Â Maxwell had not had a job since coming to New York from Nevada in 2001.Ã‚Â He said he had applied for many jobs.
He said that, like his wife, he is on medication for depression and anxiety.
Maxwell said that the piles of cat feces in the bedroom became almost impossible to clean once Lynn Maxwell lapsed into a deep depression after her mother’s sudden death in July, just weeks before Erin’s death.Ã‚Â It was “essentially a two person job,” he said, because someone needed to shoo the cats while the other person cleaned the litter boxes.
The two sides agreed on Thursday that there were 60 cats in the bedroom and another 9 that had the run of the house.Ã‚Â However, Lindsey estimated there were “about 40 cats” in the bedroom.
A photo showing cobwebs on a kitchen light has been a regular subject of testimony at the trial.Ã‚Â Lindsey said he never cleaned the cobwebs because Erin liked them. “She thought the cobwebs looked cool,” he said.
And he said he was the one to show Erin how to open the gate latch and sliding barrel lock on her doors. “It wasn’t difficult,” he said.
Lindsey’s testimony will likely wrap up during Saturday’s all-day session.Ã‚Â The lawyers will then make their final arguments to the jury, which can then decide the four charges against the Maxwells.
One of the 6 jurors was not present in the courtroom Friday night.Ã‚Â One of the two alternate jurors was moved into the regular jury.Ã‚Â Judge Robert Wood did not give an explanation for the juror’s departure.