An appeal has been filed in a murder case that stunned Central New York in 2008.
The appeal to the conviction of Alan Jones for the August 30, 2008 murder of 11 year old Erin Maxwell will be heard by the Appellate Division in Rochester this fall. The appeal is based in part on a lack of evidence proving that Jones acted with "depraved indifference" when he strangled his stepsister to death at the Maxwell family home in Palermo.
J ones is serving 25 years to life for the murder conviction. Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes tells CNYcentral's Jim Kenyon his office intends to vigorously defend the conviction of Alan Jones. "I intend to fight on behalf of Erin, and to uphold the conviction. This case means a tremendous amount to our office," said Oakes.
When asked about the appeal questioning the depraved indifference indictment, Oakes replied, "I believe the charges were appropriate, the jury believed depraved indifference and felt that Jones had that mental state at the time."
Erin Maxwell's death sent a shockwave through the community. Police say she was forced to live in a home full of garbage, animals and feces, and was often locked in a caged in room. The girl's parents, Lynn and Lindsay Maxwell were convicted of separate counts of endangering the welfare of a child and spent two years in jail.
Her death also forced Oswego County to overhaul the way it deals with cases of child abuse and neglect after officials revealed that caseworkers had visited the Maxwell home three times and did not remove the girl from squalid living conditions.
At the time of the death, Alan Jones said he found Erin Maxwell hanging from a rope in her bedroom. The defense claimed the rope had become entangled on a protruding screw in a window casing. Prosecutors however said Jones used the rope to strangle the little girl. Before and during an emotionally charged trial that lasted 2 1/2 weeks, Judge Walter Hafner often questioned the validity of the "depraved indifference murder" indictment.
The appeal also claims that Jones was not given a fair trial and that the weight of the evidence did not support the jury's guilty verdict. Attorney John Cirando is handling the appeal.