September 2009: Jones’ Conviction Was ‘Bittersweet’

OSWEGO, NY – Patricia Oughterson, of Oswego, was appointed as the new Oswego High School principal effective Sept. 16.

She is the second female principal in the history of OHS. Previously, Ruth Raby served from 1964 to 1965.

In 1979, Oughterson student taught at OHS.

Her starting salary will be $101,000. Her tenure date is Sept. 16, 2012.

Alan Jones’ conviction on second-degree murder by “depraved indifference” drew strong reactions Sept. 24.

Jones, 28, was found guilty of killing his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell in August 2008.

It took the jury about 12 hours, over two days, to come to a unanimous verdict.

“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.”

“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. It’s bittersweet.”

“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.”

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.

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.

“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 added. “Alan is 100 percent innocent. We just go until we prove it.”

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 were sentenced in October.

On Sept. 15, the Oswego County Health Department confirmed that an Oswego County resident who had been ill with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) had died.

“EEE is a rare but serious viral disease that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes,” said Oswego County Public Health Director, Dr. Dennis Norfleet. “Its fatality rate is high; between 30 and 70 percent.”

Two earlier cases of human EEE in New York State were also fatal. One
occurred in 1971 and the other was in 1983.