A court case that consumed Oswego County three years ago is now back in the spotlight. Alan Jones, serving a possible life sentence for the death of his 11-year-old step-sister Erin Maxwell, learned Friday that his charges had been reduced, and the conviction, at least partially reversed. Our Iris St. Meran explains the change, why it happened, and what's next for Jones.
OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. -- Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes said, "I view Alan Jones the way the community does. He is a monster. He took the life of an innocent little girl. And he deserves the maximum punishment possible."
Three years ago Jones received a punishment of 25 years to life following a conviction of second degree murder for the death of his step-sister Erin Maxwell, 11. Back in 2008, she was found dead in the town of Palermo home where they lived with their parents.
During the trial prosecutors said Jones strangled her with rope. But, his attorney argued that the evidence failed to show the depraved indifference required by the charge and did not support the guilty verdict.
On Friday, the state appellate court agreed, saying that evidence presented at trial established that Jones called 911 and administered C-R at the time of the incident and was still on scene when authorities arrived. Jones' conviction was changed to second degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years.
"I'm pleased with the fact that they've taken depraved indifference murder off the chart,” said John Cirando, the attorney representing Jones.
Cirando said they will continue to fight to have the charge dropped all together. He says that Jones has always denied the claim he contributed in any way to the death of the 11-year-old.
Justice for Erin Founder Colleen Scott said, "It made me sad. Erin was just a little girl."
Scott started the group Justice for Erin. She attended Jones' trial and was at Friday's news Conference at the District Attorney's office.
"I'm just disappointed in the appellate decision," said Scott
Oakes has made a pledge to people like Scott to do what he can to reinstate the conviction.
"I will do everything in my power, to make sure that Alan Jones is held fully accountable for Erin's untimely death,” Oakes added, “Erin deserves nothing less."
The district attorney said his office is currently working on an appeal. This process could take months.
Jones' lawyer says they will continue to fight to have the charge dropped all together.
He says he believes strangling with a rope is still not reckless conduct but intentional conduct and Jones should be free.
Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes released the following statement in response to the court's ruling:
"The court's decision affirms the jury's finding that Jones caused Erin's death. He committed a wicked and horrendous act against an innocent child, and he deserves to spend the rest of his life in a cell. While no conviction can undo this tragedy, as a matter of justice, I will do everything in my power to make sure that Jones is held fully accountable for Erin's death. Erin deserves nothing less."