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Testimony Wraps Up In Jones Murder Trial

UPDATE: Alan Jones’ fate is now in the hands of the jury.

After hearing nearly three hours of closing arguments from the defense and prosecution today (Sept. 22),  the 12-man jury retired at 12:35 p.m. to begin its deliberations.

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

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OSWEGO, NY- Testimony in the Alan Jones murder trial wrapped up this afternoon (Sept. 22)  without the defendant taking the stand.

After the jury had left the courtroom, defense attorney Sal Lanza moved for a dismissal of the charge against his client, claiming the prosecution hadn’t proven its case.

Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner, however, denied the motion.

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

Hafner asked both attorneys if they wanted him to instruct the jury that they could consider a lesser charge. The prosecution and defense both said no.

The judge noted that if the jury finds Jones intentionally killed his stepsister, they have to find him not guilty of depraved indifference murder.

“He can’t be convicted of a charge that’s not contained in the indictment,” he explained.

If there is a conviction and an appeal, the case will likely wind up back in Oswego County for a re-trial, Hafner noted.

“Do I think this thing will pass muster? Not at all,” he said.

Why would the judge do this, Lanza wondered, if it meant his client would remain incarcerated for a year or more while the appeal is being heard.

The prosecution says Jones strangled the girl. The defense claims she accidentally hanged herself from a screw in a window frame while playing in her bedroom.

Former Onondaga County medical examiner Dr. Mary Jumbelic performed the autopsy on Erin and told DA Donald Dodd in court that the girl’s death was caused by strangulation.

Dr. William Manion testified this afternoon that after reviewing Erin’s autopsy report and other items related to the case, he believes she did indeed die of a hanging.

“It’s a hanging, with the knot at the back of the neck. She was hung from that screw. Whether she hung herself or somebody strung her up there, this was a hanging,” the forensic pathologist from New Jersey testified.

At one point, he testified that “the child stepped off the bed, had this noose around her neck and was hung.”

Manion said he has performed 1,500 autopsies.

At first, he thought the death was a homicide.

But, after taking a closer look, he said he wondered why Jones’ DNA wasn’t on the rope he allegedly used to kill Erin; and he thought it strange that Jones administered CPR to Erin if he had just attempted to kill her.

“You begin to have some doubt. You start to wonder, ‘What the hell is going on here?’” he testified.

Dodd tried to discredit the doctor’s testimony.

Under cross-examination, Manion admitted that of the number of autopsies he’s conducted, very few were hangings – just one ligature hanging in the past three years.

As he finished his questioning, Dodd asked, “Isn’t true that (Erin Maxwell) was strangled?”

“Is that the theory now?” the doctor replied. “That’s the worst theory in this case.”

Closing arguments will be heard Wednesday morning. And, the jury is likely to begin its deliberations sometime after lunch.