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PostSubject: Erin Maxwell (11) R.I.P.   Erin Maxwell (11) R.I.P. Icon_minitimeWed Oct 21, 2009 8:33 am

Erin Maxwell (11) R.I.P. Erinmaxwell1
Erin Maxwell (11) - died in the hospital after being rushed there after a 911 call to her home on 8/31/08
Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell - parents convicted of multiple counts of child endangerment on 08/09/09; each was sentenced to two years in the county jail on October 12, 2009
Alan Jones (28) - stepbrother charged with the murder of Erin Maxwell; convicted September 24, 2009
Oswego County, NY

Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell each get two years in county jail
Syracuse Post-Standard - 10/12/09

Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell were sentenced tonight to two years in the Oswego County Correctional Facility for providing deplorable living conditions for Lindsey's daughter Erin Maxwell.

Palermo Town Justice Robert Wood sentenced the Maxwells for their August convictions on four charges each of endangering the welfare of a child, all misdemeanors. They must serve 16 months before being eligible for release.

Their lawyer, Salvatore Lanza, will file the appeal of their convictions Tuesday morning. He also filed notices of appeal with the Palermo court Monday night.

{complete case coverage below}

Lanza also said he will appear before county Judge Walter Hafner or another county-level judge Tuesday and will file for an "order staying the execution of sentence." This would allow the Maxwells to stay out of jail on their own recognizance while the appeal is being decided.

The Maxwells again faced a hostile crowd as they exited court Monday night. Just like when they were convicted in August, a number of onlookers angrily yelled at them, telling them "you're going to get yours in jail" and "how does it feel?"

Lanza yelled back at the crowd, telling them to "go back to youre trailers all of you" and "go collect your Social Security disability and your welfare."

The Maxwells were found guilty by a jury of providing Erin a dirty, deplorable home to live in on State Route 264 in Palermo. Police reported that Erin’s clothes often reeked of cat urine and she had been seen looking for food in garbage cans at school.

When authorities responded to a 911 call from the State Route 264 house Aug. 29, 2008, they found more than 70 cats, cat feces all over the rug, garbage piling on a porch and dead kittens in the freezer. Witnesses testified during the Maxwells trial that Erin also often was locked in her room at night.

Erin was 11 when she died Aug. 30, 2008 at University Hospital. She was found unresponsive in her bedroom the day before by her stepbrother, Alan Jones -- Lynn Maxwell's son. He said he found her hanging from a screw in the wall. Police said he strangled Erin.

Expert says appeal of Alan Jones murder conviction is unlikely to be successful
The Post-Standard - 09/27/09

When a jury Thursday convicted Alan Jones of murdering his stepsister, Erin Maxwell, his defense attorney quickly promised to appeal.

Even if lawyer Salvatore Lanza gets that chance, he’s not likely to be successful, according to a criminal law expert at Syracuse University.

John Gross, acting director of SU’s Criminal Defense Clinic, also said he disagrees with Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner’s opinion that the verdict is likely to be dismissed on appeal.

“I think it would be difficult; the odds are always against you,” Gross said. “The jury was convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was guilty.”

Lanza said he believes Jones should have been on trial for intentional murder, not depraved indifference murder. Depraved indifference means Jones wasn’t trying to kill the 11-year-old girl but acted in such a way that showed he didn’t care if she did.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy in the case ruled Maxwell was strangled from behind. She lost consciousness and was pronounced dead early the next day.

Appealing over legal technicalities makes people cynical about the justice system, Gross said. Instead of arguing that Jones didn’t strangle the girl to death, the defense would really be attacking the prosecutor’s strategy, Gross said.

A crime doesn’t always fit into a “neat little box,” he said. “We’re not talking night and day here. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances.”

He noted that Hafner gave the jury specific instructions about the difference between intentional and depraved indifference murder.

Jury convicts Alan Jones of murdering Erin Maxwell
The Post Standard - 09/24/09

An Oswego County jury has found Alan Jones guilty of murdering his stepsister, Erin Maxwell, by strangling her with a rope last August in Palermo.

The jury of 12 men said they believed Jones, 28, tightened the green rope around the 11-year-old girl's neck, causing her death.

The prosecution's case in the three-week trial before County Court Judge Walter Hafner centered on an autopsy that declared Maxwell was strangled, not hanged as Jones had claimed.

Former Chief Onondaga County Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Jumbelic testified that rope marks on Maxwell's neck were caused by a strangulation. She said they were too low, too horizontal and too symmetrical on the girl's neck to be a hanging.

In hangings, Jumbelic said that the rope would have slid up her neck to the chin and would have been nearly vertical because the suspension point would have been above the girl. They would not have been symmetrical because her head would have fallen to one side after she lost consciousness.

Dodd called Jones' story about finding Maxwell hanging from a screw in her room "not worthy of belief" during closing arguments. He also pointed out apparent inconsistencies in Jones' four statements to police after Maxwell was found unresponsive in her bedroom.

Jury still deliberating murder charge against Erin Maxwell's stepbrother
The Post Standard - 09/23/09

An Oswego county jury of 12 men began deliberations in the Alan Jones murder trial around noon today. By 2:15 p.m. the jurors had yet to reach a verdict.

Jones, charged with second-degree murder, is accused of strangling his 11-year-old stepsister, Erin Maxwell, with a rope in August 2008 at their town of Palermo home.

County Court Judge Walter Hafner instructed the jury on the particulars of the second-degree murder charge.

He then added another instruction to the jurors regarding the depraved indifference theory upon which the murder charge is based. He told the jury “the defendant cannot be convicted of murder in the second degree (depraved indifference) if you find the defendant intentionally killed Erin Maxwell.”

This is because “such a finding would absolutely negate, as a matter of law, the core element of recklessness.”

After the jury began deliberations, defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza said the Maxwell family is “frightened.”

“We’re not going in cocky or confident,” Lanza said.

Lanza said, “We don’t know what ...8 the jury is going to do.”

Jones’ mother, Lynn Maxwell said she was taking it “one breath at a time.”

“Everything we could get in is in,” she said of evidence presented at trial.

She said Lanza did the best job he could in defending her son.

Several spectators have set up lawn chairs in the parking lot of the court building as they waited for the verdict.

Allison Ryder, of Palermo, said she has heard about three-quarters of the testimony in the trial that has stretched into its third week.

Defense rests in trial of stepbrother accused of strangling Erin Maxwell
The Post Standard - 09/22/09

The last defense witness in the Alan Jones murder trial testified today that he disagreed with a medical examiner's ruling that Erin Maxwell was strangled.

Dr. William Manion, a forensic pathologist hired by the defense, told the jury of 12 men that he believed the 11-year-old girl hanged from a rope with a slip knot attached to a screw in her bedroom.

"It’s a hanging, with the knot at the back of the neck," Manion testified in Oswego County Court. "Whether she hung herself or somebody strung her up there, this was a hanging."

The former Chief Onondaga County Medical Examiner Mary Jumbelic, who performed Maxwell's autopsy Aug. 30, 2008, believed the Palermo girl was strangled.

Jones, 28, is on trial for second-degree murder, charged with depraved indifference. The prosecution contends he intentionally tightened the rope around the neck of Maxwell, his stepsister.

Jones told troopers he found Maxwell hanging from a screw in her room. Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza has speculated at trial that the girl was acting out a scene from the Disney movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean," when she fell off her bed and accidentally hanged.

Manion said he performs autopsies for a hospital chain in the Philadelphia area and works as a part-time medical examiner for two counties in New Jersey.

In addition to countering testimony that Maxwell was strangled, Manion said he found no evidence that she was assaulted.

Jumbelic testified last week that Maxwell had assault injuries to her arms, legs, back, face and scalp that occurred around the time she lost consciousness.

Manion said he believed that many of the cuts and bruises on Maxwell's body were caused by medical intervention. A bruise to Maxwell’s lower lip was likely caused by a laryngoscope, which has a metal blade used to help clear her airway, he testified.

Defense expert questions whether Maxwell was strangled
WSYR TV - 09/22/09

An expert witness for the defense in the Erin Maxwell murder trial is disputing the prosecution’s claim Erin Mawell was strangled by Alan Jones.

Dr. William Manion, a Forensic Pathologist has been on the stand for much of the day Tuesday. He’s been testifying about the marks found on Erin's neck, and explaining why he believes they are not consistent with strangulation, but a hanging.

“My conclusion is this child stepped off the bed and hung herself with the noose,” Dr. Manion told the jury of 12 men Tuesday morning.

Dr. Manion said when he first looked at the case, he thought Jones strangled Maxwell, and raped her. However he says after looking at DNA results, “it put more doubt in my mind that this girl was strangled; only the child’s DNA was on the rope.”

Dr. Manion went on to give his expert opinion about the pattern of the marks on her neck, and the nature in which the knot was tied.

Defense expert: Erin Maxwell could have hanged herself
The Post-Standard - 09/21/09

A defense expert in the Alan Jones murder trial testified Monday that his experiments showed Erin Maxwell could have hanged herself from a screw in her bedroom.

Eugene Camerota, an Onondaga Community College professor of engineering science, said the 11-year-old girl’s feet would not have been touching the floor if the rope found in the room caught the screw part way down. The prosecution has contended the rope was too long for the child to hang from.

Defendant Alan Jones is on trial for second-degree murder in the 11-year-old girl’s death in August 2008. Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza has argued Maxwell was goofing off on her bed when she slipped with a rope around her neck. The rope caught on the screw in a piece of window trim and hanged her a few inches off the floor.

Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd contends Jones strangled Maxwell to death. When cross-examining Camerota, he pointed out that the engineer made several assumptions in his analysis.

Camerota assumed Maxwell’s neck was 12 inches in circumference. Dr. Mary Jumbelic, the medical examiner who performed Maxwell’s autopsy, estimated her neck was eight inches in circumference. The engineer also added lengths to factor in three-dimensional distances, assuming Maxwell hanged diagonally with her side against the wall, not directly under the screw with her neck against the wall.

Camerota also testified that his test showed a screw similar to the one in Maxwell’s bedroom could have held her weight.

Earlier in the day, a former nurse who now works as a paralegal in Lanza’s law office testified for the defense.

Carrie Fellows said that an injury to Maxwell’s lower lip in autopsy photos could have been caused by medical intervention. Jumbelic testified she was certain, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that Maxwell was assaulted around the time she lost consciousness Aug. 29, 2008.

Erin Maxwell's father says she and Alan Jones 'were best friends'
The Post-Standard - date

Erin Maxwell's father took the stand Friday to say his stepson was never violent toward his 11-year-old daughter.

His stepson, Alan Jones, is accused of murdering the young girl.

Lindsey Maxwell Jr., 36, told an Oswego County jury that his daughter and stepson "were best friends." "Alan and Erin were almost inseparable," Lindsey Maxwell said. He said his daughter wanted to do whatever Jones did, like draw and watch movies together. She also asked his help with her homework, he said.

Jones is on trial for second-degree murder, accused of strangling Erin with a rope in her bedroom Aug. 29, 2008. The prosecution rested its case Friday morning after calling 20 witnesses over nine days.

Lindsey Maxwell said his daughter's favorite movie was "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza played for the jury a gallows hanging scene at the beginning of the movie.

Lanza has suggested Erin was trying to replicate part of the movie while goofing off on her bed. Instead, she accidentally slipped and a rope around her neck asphyxiated her.

The day started with Lanza resuming cross examination of Dr. Mary Jumbelic, the now-retired medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Maxwell's body. She ruled the girl died of strangulation, and testified that Erin suffered blunt-force trauma around the time she lost consciousness. Red marks on her neck were not consistent with a hanging, she testified.

Lanza said he would try a different approach Friday, a day after he traded sharp comments with Jumbelic. But soon, became frustrated with her testimony. "Did you actually do this autopsy, honestly?" Lanza asked the medical examiner.

District Attorney Donald Dodd objected. Outside the jury's presence, he called the question "irresponsible" and demanded a reprimand from the court.

"You will not comment about my integrity," Lanza said.

"I will, sir, because it's at issue here," Dodd replied.

Judge Walter Hafner agreed with Dodd that the question was out of line.

WCAX TV - 09/18/09

The prosecution is resting its case in the murder trial of a 28-year-old central New York man accused of murdering his 11-year-old stepsister.

Prosecutors called 19 witnesses over the first nine days in the trial of Alan Jones of Palermo. Defense attorney Sal Lanza says he has about a dozen witnesses to call.

Lanza claims Erin Maxwell accidentally hanged herself while playing in her bedroom on Aug. 29, 2008. Prosecutors contend Jones strangled Maxwell. Authorities say the home was littered with piles of feces from the more than 100 cats living in the house.

Maxwell's parents were previously convicted of multiple child endangerment charges and are awaiting sentencing. Jones faces a maximum of 25 years to life if convicted.

Medical examiner testifies Erin Maxwell did not hang
The Post Standard - 09/17/09

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on the body of Erin Maxwell testified the Palermo girl suffered blunt-force trauma about the time she lost consciousness.

Dr. Mary Jumbelic, former Onondaga County medical examiner, said bruises to Maxwell's arms and legs did not appear to have been caused by medical intervention after the girl was found unresponsive in her bedroom Aug. 29, 2008. Maxwell was pronounced dead the following day at State University Hospital in Syracuse.

Jumbelic told the jury of 12 men in the murder trial of Maxwell's stepbrother, Alan Jones, 29, that she examined Maxwell for four hours on Aug. 30. She said red rope marks around Maxwell's neck were not consistent with 125 other hangings she had investigated in her career.

Defendant Alan Jones's DNA wasn't found on Erin Maxwell's body
The Post-Standard - 09/16/09

No DNA from defendant Alan Jones was located on Erin Maxwell's body or on a rope believed to have caused her death, a forensics expert testified Wednesday.

Lisa Sheridan, of the state police crime lab in Albany, told the jury of 12 men in Jones' murder trial she found the 11-year-old girl's DNA on several areas of the rope. But no DNA from Jones was found on the rope, or on DNA samples from Maxwell's private areas, her fingernails or her blood-stained nightgown.

Jones is accused of strangling his 11-year-old stepsister Aug. 29, 2008, inside the Palermo home they shared. Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza has argued Maxwell was playing on her bed and slipped off with the rope around her neck, causing her to asphyxiate.

Sheridan said about half the time that a person touches an object, he or she leaves DNA on it. She suggested Jones could have touched the rope without leaving DNA.

A forensics investigator also testified Wednesday about evidence collected at Maxwell's residence on state Route 264 the weekend after her death.

Investigator Joseph Harriger said he removed a window trim from Maxwell's bedroom that contained a small screw sticking out a quarter-inch. The defense claims that Maxwell accidentally hanged herself from that screw.

After asking Harriger about Maxwell's height and the length of the rope, District Attorney Donald Dodd implied to the jury she could not have been hanging off the floor from the screw. Maxwell was 54 inches tall, the rope was 52¼ inches long and the screw was 76 inches off the floor, Harriger testified.

Lanza argued other variables weren't investigated. Maxwell would have been hanging from her neck, below the top of her head, he said. Also, part of the rope would have been wrapped around Maxwell's neck, meaning the circumference of her neck needed to be subtracted, the lawyer said.

Judge questions DA's charge against Jones
The Palladium-Times - 09/15/09

Tuesday’s murder trial for Alan Jones, accused of killing his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell, was highlighted by a heated debate regarding the depraved indifference indictment brought against the defendant.

Jones has been charged with second-degree murder, District Attorney Donald Dodd has cited that the defendant had a depraved indifference in the role of Erin’s death. He has argued that Jones strangled his stepsister with a nylon braided green rope last August.

However, Oswego County Judge Walter Hafner Jr. stated during the trial that it is growingly evident that Dodd does not understand the difference between depraved indifference and intentional murder. According to Hafner, a depraved indifference murder is acting devoid of regard for the life or lives of others in such a way as to receive the same criminal liability imposed on a person who intentionally kills an individual, however, it is not the same as intentional murder.

“It is getting to the point of ridiculousness,” Hafner said during Tuesday’s proceedings.

The issue was raised during New York State Police Investigator Steven Bourgeois’ testimony. The investigator discussed how he told Jones that Erin died at Upstate Medical Hospital, in Syracuse. However, before Bourgeois could mention Jones’ demeanor after learning of Erin’s death, Defense Attorney Sal Lanza objected to any additional testimony regarding Jones’ emotional response.

According to Lanza, Jones’ indifferent reaction to the news of his stepsister’s death was part of his pagan-based religious views, which Lanza explained should not be referenced in court. After the objection, the jury was removed from the courtroom so the judge and attorneys could discuss the legal question.

Bourgeois then told those remaining in the courtroom that Jones seemed indifferent and lacked any response after finding out that Erin had succumbed to the injuries she sustained Aug. 29, 2008.

“I asked why he had no response,” Bourgeois recalled. “He said he did not view death the way Christians do. He pointed to me and said, ‘you’re going to die, I’m going to die, it is no big deal.’”

Judge in Erin Maxwell trial: Alan Jones could confess and jury would have to find him not guilty under prosecution's theory
The Post-Standard - 09/15/09

Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner said in court this morning that defendant Alan Jones could admit to strangling Erin Maxwell to death and the jury would have to find him not guilty under the theory presented by the prosecution.

The judge's statement -- while the jury was out of the room -- came after District Attorney Donald Dodd argued that testimony about Jones' views of death were crucial for the jury to hear. Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza said that Jones is a pagan and views death differently than a Christian would.

Dodd is prosecuting Jones under the theory he strangled Maxwell to death with depraved indifference. This means that he did not intentionally kill the 11-year-old girl but acted with such reckless disregard for her life that he caused her death. Hafner has said that Jones' actions would indicate an intentional murder, but not not fall under the depraved indifference charge in the indictment.

Hafner's comment in court today came after Dodd suggested the court should have not allowed the case to go forward if the judge felt the indictment was inappropriate.

Trooper relates murder suspect's story about finding Erin Maxwell dangling by a rope
The Post-Standard - 09/14/09

Alan Jones told state police he didn't immediately realize his stepsister, Erin Maxwell, was asphyxiated when he called her to dinner the evening of Aug. 29, 2008, Investigator Carl Stonebarger testified this morning in Oswego County Court.

After the 11-year-old girl didn't respond, Jones said he walked into her bedroom and noticed a rope around her neck. Jones told the trooper he saw her face was blue, took her off the rope and called 911.

"It was as if she was just standing there," Stonebarger quoted Jones as saying. Jones told the trooper he believed Maxwell was twirling the rope when it got caught in the screw and tightened around her neck. "He kept repeating that it was an accident," Stonebarger testified.

Jones, of Palermo, is charged with second-degree murder in Maxwell's death. Today marked the fifth day of his trial before 12 male jurors in Oswego County Court.

Stonebarger said he saw a green braided rope on Maxwell's bed during his investigation. District Attorney Donald Dodd contends Jones used the rope to strangle Maxwell to death.

Trooper Shawn Finkle also testified this morning before Judge Walter Hafner. Finkle was the first officer to arrive at the state Route 264 residence after Maxwell was found unresponsive.

Hafner chastised Dodd after Finkle and Stonebarger each offered opinions regarding Jones' demeanor that day. Hafner has ruled that the jury cannot hear opinions regarding Jones' demeanor, because it is not part of the theory of the crime.

Mention of sexual trauma missing from high-profile Erin Maxwell trial
The Post-Standard - 09/13/09

Erin Maxwell's autopsy says she died of asphyxiation, and sexual trauma was " a significant condition contributing to her death, but not related to her cause." That was one year ago.

When the trial of her stepbrother, Alan Jones, opened Tuesday, Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd agreed he would not raise the sexual trauma issue as part of his case.

That has left people following the high-profile case wondering: why?

Was it for a lack of evidence that Dodd declined to consider at trial whether Jones sexually molested the 11-year-old girl? Or was it legal strategy? Or was it a combination of both?

Defense attorney Salvatore Lanza said Dodd didn't pursue sex-related charges against Jones when the prosecutor first presented the case to a grand jury. That, Lanza said, led him to believe Dodd doesn't have enough proof to convict Jones of molesting Maxwell before she died Aug. 30, 2008.

Medical personnel found Maxwell unconscious in her Palermo home the day before she died. Last month, her father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, were convicted of four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Jones, who lived with the parents and his stepsister, is charged with second-degree murder and faces up to 25 years to life if he is convicted.

Dodd said he can't talk about the case because of a judge's order, nor can he reveal information about grand jury proceedings.

But some lawyers say it's difficult to convict someone being tried on murder charges of also sexually abusing the victim. It's even more difficult if there is no DNA evidence linking the defendant to the sex crime, the lawyers said.

"Without a victim, without an admission (of guilt) from the defendant or some other way to connect the defendant to the crime, these cases are very difficult to prove," Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said.

Alan Jones trial update: Doctor describes injuries to Erin Maxwell
The Post-Standard - 09/11/09

A pediatric doctor at University Hospital said Erin Maxwell was nearly brain dead by the time she arrived in the intensive-care unit on the night of Aug. 29, 2008.

After speaking with two doctors at Fulton's A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kevin Ragosta said he knew before seeing the 11-year-old girl that she was going to die.

"There was no meaningful treatment," Ragosta said Friday in Oswego County Court, noting Maxwell hadn't breathed on her own for several hours. "It looks like they were doing the best they could."

Ragosta's testimony came on the fourth day of the Alan Jones murder trial. Jones is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Maxwell, his stepsister, who was found unresponsive by medical personnel in the bedroom of her Palermo home.

The doctor said he asked other hospital workers to check for abuse after finding a small mark on Maxwell's buttock and a creamy substance on her. The substance was not identified in court Friday.

District Attorney Donald Dodd has agreed not to ask questions regarding sexual trauma to Maxwell's body. Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza said in court that no semen was found on her.

Ragosta was shown autopsy photos depicting injuries to Maxwell's arms, legs, head, chest and neck. He said the only one of those injuries he saw was a red mark on her neck.

"When you are doing CPR, people are pushing, prodding and drawing blood," he said, suggesting a cause for the minor injuries. Injuries also appear more visible after death, he said.

Lanza asked if Maxwell's swollen, bruised lower lip could have been caused by inserting a metal object with a blade used to move her tongue.

Ragosta said the device can cause the lower lip to pinch against the teeth. He said he hadn't seen the device injure anyone's lip as badly as Maxwell's had been.

Lanza said he believes Maxwell's injuries were caused during rescue efforts. He asserts Maxwell accidentally hanged herself and was found by Jones in her bedroom. Outside the presence of the jury, Lanza contended the girl slipped while goofing off on a wooden board. She fell off her bed, causing a rope with a slip knot to tighten around her neck, the lawyer argued.

Third day of testimony in Alan Jones trial
WSYR TV - 09/11/09

Dr. Dennis Mullaney from Lee Memorial Hospital is currently on the stand in the Alan Jones trial. He is a witness for the Prosecution.

He is an Emergency Room Doctor who treated Erin Maxwell when she was brought into Fulton's Lee Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Mullaney has been a very outspoken critic of the way Oswego County's Department of Social Services handles complaints about child abuse.

He voiced his concerns to the Oswego County Legislature in the months following Maxwell's death.

September 10, 2009:

Oswego (WSYR-TV) - It's day two of testimony in Oswego County Court, where Alan Jones is on trial accused of killing his stepsister Erin Maxwell.

The prosecution called three witnesses to the stand, including Palermo Fire Chief Jon Chwago and two EMS personnel. Chwago was on the stand for three hours Thursday morning.

All three were there when Erin was found unresponsive in her Palermo home on August 29, 2008.

The EMS workers testified that Erin was not breathing during their whole time there; James Cronk, of McFee Ambulance Service, said "once or twice she did get her heart rate back, but it was short and would stop."

Photos of Erin taken by the medical examiner on August 30, the day after she was found, showed several marks on her arms and legs, including a cut on her lower lip.

All three witnesses claimed they did not see those marks when they saw Erin the night before. Defense attorney Sal Lanza is trying to convince jurors that the marks on the 11-year-old’s body were from emergency personnel trying to save her life, and that they did not come from Alan Jones.

Medic quizzed by defense about bruises found on Erin Maxwell's body
The Post-Standard - 09/10/09

A Palermo medic who responded to Erin Maxwell's home said in court today that many of the bruises and cuts on her body could have been caused by attempts to revive her.

But the critical care technician said he didn't know for sure what caused any of the injuries on Maxwell's body. An autopsy showed she sustained both minor cuts as well as major injuries to her forehead, shoulder and pelvic area.

That testimony came as the Oswego County Court trial of Alan Jones, accused of murdering his 11-year-old stepsister, entered its third day.

District Attorney Donald Dodd, prosecuting the case, called Jon Chawgo to the stand this morning to testify about his treatment of Maxwell, Aug. 29, 2008 at her Palermo home.

Chawgo said he inserted a medical device with a blade into Maxwell's mouth in an effort to clear her airway.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Salvatore Lanza showed the jury photos of the girl's bruised body taken at her autopsy the next day.

Chawgo testified he did not notice any injuries to Maxwell's body while he was treating her, except for a mark on her neck.

The bloodied and swollen lower lip, evident in the photo, may have been caused by the insertion of a sharp device to clear her airway, but he said he extremely doubted it. He suggested it may have been caused by medical treatment later on or was not as large or swollen when he first saw Maxwell.

Chawgo said bruises take time to develop after trauma. "It's like a black eye," he said. "You get hit one day, and you wake up the next morning with a black eye."

Lanza asked Chawgo about bruises on Maxwell's forehead, evident in the photo. Chawgo said they may have been caused by an assault, but said it was more likely caused by tape medics used when transporting her to the hospital.

Testimony begins in Alan Jones murder trial
WSYR TV - 09/09/09

The prosecution and defense presented their opening statements Wednesday morning in Oswego County Court in the murder trial of Alan Jones.

Testimony started in the afternoon. Jones is charged with death of his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell, who was found mortally wounded in her Palermo home on August 29, 2008 and died the next morning.

Oswego County District Attorney completed his opening statements by around 11:00 a.m. Defense Attorney Sal Lanza wrapped up his opening statements around noon.

Lanza also requested a mistrial in the morning. That request was denied by Judge Hafner.

Debra Denery was one of the three witnesses called to the stand Wednesday before court adjourned for the day. She is a member of the Palermo Fire Department, and was first on the scene the day Erin Maxwell was found unresponsive. She gave a step-by-step account of what she saw when she arrived.

Upon cross examination, Lanza made Debra Denery go over everything again, and he also questioned her credibility, claiming that she told police last year that she did not see a mark on Erin’s neck , but told DA Donald Dodd in court Wednesday that she did see a mark on Erin’s neck when she arrived at the house.

Denery was on the stand for roughly two and a half hours.

The defense claims that Erin had accidentally hanged herself in her room; Lanza says Jones went to bring Erin her dinner when he found her badly hurt and called 911.

The prosecution is claiming that Erin’s injuries were more consistent with a strangulation, and not a hanging.

Judge in Erin Maxwell murder trial questions validity of charge against Alan Jones
The Post Standard - 09/09/09

Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner said this morning the depraved-indifference murder charge against Alan Jones, accused of killing his stepsister, Erin Maxwell, may be inappropriate.

The judge's comments followed a protest by Jones' defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza during the opening statements this morning of District Attorney Donald Dodd. Lanza said Dodd had overstepped his bounds when telling the jury how witnesses would describe Jones' demeanor the day the 11-year -old girl was found unresponsive in her town of Palermo home.

The judge asked the jury to leave the courtroom before discussing the objection with both lawyers.

Dodd had argued that Jones, 27, strangled his stepsister with a rope. Jones is charged with second-degree murder under the theory he had demonstrated depraved indifference in committing the crime. Hafner said this morning that Jones' actions would indicate an intentional murder, but not not fall under the depraved indifference charge in the indictment.

Referring to the charge, Hafner said, "It's so strange. It's intentional, it's depraved indifference, it's reckless, it's all in one and it won't stand upon appeal."

Hafner read a court of appeals decision that said that a defendant's actions in regards to giving assistance to a victim could not be used to support a depraved indifference murder charge.

Jury seated in Alan Jones trial
WSYR - 09/08/09

Twelve jurors and two alternates have been selected in the murder trial of Alan Jones in Oswego County. Jones is charged with death of his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell. All but one of the jurors are men.

Jones is charged with death of his 11-year-old stepsister Erin Maxwell.

Eleven-year-old Erin Maxwell was found unresponsive in her bedroom inside her Palermo home August 29th. She died the next morning at the hospital. Her step brother Alan Jones was charged with second degree murder in her death; her autopsy determined she died of asphyxia, with sexual trauma as a significant condition contributing to death but not related to the cause.

Jones claimed he found Erin with a piece of green string around her neck, which was attached to a screw in a wall.

Oswego district attorney says he won't offer evidence Erin Maxwell was sexually traumatized
The Post Standard - 09/08/09

The prosecutor in the Erin Maxwell murder trial revealed this morning he does not plan to bring up allegations of sexual trauma or the "deplorable" conditions of the Maxwell house during the trial against her stepbrother, Alan Jones.

District Attorney Donald Dodd said witness testimony about the Maxwell house at 1678 Route 264 will be confined to the layout and furnishings of the residence, not its condition.

"I'm not going there," Dodd told Judge Walter Hafner. Authorities who responded to the residence after Erin Maxwell was found unresponsive reported dozens of cats and their feces.

Erin's parents, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, were convicted last month on four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, which is a misdemeanor. They have not yet been sentenced.

In court today, Dodd also said he wouldn't bring up allegations Maxwell was starved.

But he said he will address reports of a lock on Erin's bedroom door, despite defense lawyer Sal Lanza's objections.

About 10:30 a.m., the judge called in the first pool of potential jurors. Out of 90 people summoned for jury duty, 22 have been chosen to be vetted by both sides.

Before lawyers could interview those potential jurors, the judge took a recess for lunch. Picking 12 jurors for the case could take all of today and a portion of tomorrow, the judge said.

Trial of Alan Jones for the death of Erin Maxwell begins Tuesday in Oswego County
The Post Standard - 09/07/09

Alan L. Jones says he walked into Erin Maxwell's bedroom more than a year ago and found her "hanging from a screw that sticks out from the window frame in her room."

The police believe differently. They say he murdered his 11-year-old stepsister.

Come Tuesday, it will be left to a jury of 12 people in Oswego County Court to decide who is right, in what is shaping up to be the highest profile trial there in 15 years.

Jones, who has been held in jail since his arrest Oct. 7, is charged with second-degree murder in Maxwell's death. Jones told police he found the girl unresponsive Aug. 29, 2008, in her bedroom at their home. She died the next morning at University Hospital, in Syracuse.

Her autopsy report says she died of asphyxia, with sexual trauma "as a significant condition contributing to death, but not related to the cause." The autopsy also ruled the death a homicide, and the report said Maxwell's injury occurred as she was "assaulted by another."

One aspect of the case that could be explained at trial is what is meant by the sexual trauma found by the autopsy. No information about that has come to light in the year since the girl's death.

Jones said he was taking Erin her dinner that afternoon when he found her hanging.

"There was a piece of green braided string around her neck that was attached to the screw. All of Erin's weight was hanging on the rope around her neck," he told police.

"Erin was wearing her nightgown," he said. "It was pinkish and I think it had a picture of (TV character) Hannah Montana on it."

Judge reduces Maxwells' bail; relative plans to bail them out today
The Post-Standard - 08/18/09

An Oswego County judge today reduced the bail for Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell, who have been held at the Oswego County Jail since they were convicted Saturday on four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child, Erin Maxwell.

Judge Walter Hafner set the Maxwells' bail at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond each, half the amount that was set Saturday in Palermo Town Court by town Justice Robert Wood. Lynn Maxwell's brother, Robert Leahey of Central Square, said he expected to come up with the bail money today.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Maxwells were still being held at the Oswego County jail.

But also during the session today in county court in Oswego, the Maxwells' lawyer Salvatore Lanza stated a number of issues he will address in the appeal.

NY couple plans appeal in child-endangerment case
Fox 44 News, Burlington, VT - 08/09/09

A defense lawyer says a husband and wife plan to appeal their conviction on charges of forcing an 11-year-old girl to live in filth in their central New York home. She later was found strangled.

A Palermo Town Court jury found Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell guilty Saturday of child endangerment. They face up to two years in prison. Sentencing is set for Oct. 12.

Authorities say the Maxwells' Oswego County home was strewn with trash and waste from more than 100 cats. Defense attorney Salvatore Lanza says Lynn Maxwell was depressed about her mother's death and unable to handle housework.

Her husband's daughter, Erin, died last August. The girl's 27-year-old stepbrother, Alan Jones, is charged with murder.

Lanza has said the family believes Erin's death was an accident.

Jury finds the Maxwells guilty on all counts
The Post-Standard - 08/09/09

Update at 2:08 p.m. Sunday: The Maxwells have not yet posted bail and remain in Oswego County Jail.

A town of Palermo jury found Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell guilty Saturday night on four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child.

The charges stem from the investigation into the death of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell, Lindsey Maxwell's daughter.

The jury returned with its verdict at 10:17 p.m. There were about 30 people in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Afterward, the Maxwells sat with their heads resting on one another as their attorney and the prosecutor conferred with the judge.

Then Judge Robert Wood revoked the Maxwells' $2,500 bail and set a new bail at $10,000 for each. The Maxwells said nothing as each was led by state trooper to a waiting transport vehicle.
As they walked across the town hall parking lot, two onlookers jeered at them.

"I'm so ashamed of you, Lynn," said one.

"Burn in hell, Lindsey," said another.

BULLETIN: Maxwells Guilty
Oswego County Today - 08/08/09

The jury’s verdict, eight times, was the same: guilty. Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell were convicted at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday in Palermo Town Court of eight counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, for the cat feces and urine in their home and the locks on the outside of the doors of their daughter, Erin Maxwell.

Judge Robert Wood increased the Maxwells’ bail to $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond, which meant they were led away from court by State Police to spend at least one night in the Oswego County Correctional Facility until they can try to pay the higher bail amount.

As the Maxwells were walked across the parking lot to the waiting police vehicles, a member of the community shouted at them. “You should be proud,” she shouted at Lindsey. The Maxwells gave many interviews during the trial but said nothing tonight.

Their lawyer, Sal Lanza, said there were issues to take to an appeal. Prosecutor Mark Moody said the verdict was satisfying but would not change the fact that a girl died.

Erin Maxwell’s stepbrother, Alan Jones, will stand trial in September on charges of sexual abuse and murder.

The jury deliberated for five hours. Jurors left without commenting on the reasons for their verdict.

Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell post bail; released from jail
WSYR-TV - 08/05/09

August 5, 2009:
Palermo (WSYR-TV) - Lynn Maxwell returned to the stand in the child endangerment trial against her and her husband, Lindsey Maxwell.

The two are accused of forcing 11-year-old Erin Maxwell to live in deplorable conditions at their Palermo home. Erin was found strangled at the home on August 29 of last year.

First responders to the scene that night say they saw trash piled on a back porch at the home, and also noticed a strong odor of ammonia or cat urine.

During Thursday night's testimony, defense attorney Sal Lanza questioned Lynn, Erin's stepmother, about the cats that were found in the home. Lanza showed the jury several pictures of the home's interior, including photos of several litter boxes that had cat feces in them, but were not overflowing.

Cross examination of Lynn Maxwell began at about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.

August 4, 2009

Palermo (WSYR-TV) – The child endangerment trial of Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell has resumed Tuesday night in Palermo Town Court.

It will be the trial's sixth day. During the first week, troopers, investigators and firefighters testified about the conditions Erin Maxwell, 11, lived in. They said she was locked in her room, the floors were covered with trash and the home smelled like cat urine.

On Tuesday, the prosecution called two witnesses to the stand.

The first witness, Hilary McIntyre, is a volunteer with the Oswego County SPCA. She told prosecutors that she removed a total of 126 cats from the home between August 31 and October 3. She said she first removed 43 live cats from the home along with 20 dead kittens from the freezer a few days after August 29, when Erin Maxwell was found mortally wounded at the Palermo home.

McIntyre said she was accidentally locked in Erin’s room after the door closed behind her and the hook-and-eye latch locked. She said it took about 15 minutes to get out of the room; she eventually unlocked the latch with a pen.

Upon cross examination, McIntyre admitted she was not in the house when first responders were at the scene on August 29. She said she was at the scene for the first time on August 31 and entered the house for the first time on September 3.

The second witness was Town of Palermo codes enforcement officer Joseph Fiumara, who said he was first sent to the home by the Oswego County district attorney on August 31.

Fiumara said he noticed an overpowering ammonia odor on the first floor. He said he entered the home wearing a T-shirt, shorts and a mask. Once he walked into the kitchen, he said hundreds of fleas jumped onto his shirt.

Fiumara then deemed the home unfit for occupancy, according to NYS code.

On cross examination, defense attorney Sal Lanza pointed to court documents that say Fiumara was in the home for only seven minutes.

Fiumara admitted he couldn't tell whether the structure was sound or unsound, but he did say he did not think the home was in disrepair.

Fiumara says he didn't see any rats or other vermin there, but he believed the home was contaminated because of the ammonia smell and the cat urine.

He said there was proper ventilation in the home, but he did notice animal feces in every room.

After Fiumara’s cross examination, the prosecution rested its case.

Emergency responder, investigators testify at Maxwell trial
WSYR-TV - 08/01/09

August 1, 2009: Five witnesses were called to the stand Saturday, as the trial of Lynn and Lyndsey Maxwell continued. An emergency responder answered questions about conditions in the home the day 11-year-old Erin Maxwell died.

Lynn and Lyndsey face multiple counts of child endangerment. Erin's step-brother Alan Jones is charged with her murder.

The first witness was Debra Denery, with the Palermo volunteer fire department. She was one fo the first on the scene the day Erin was killed. She talked about how the home smelled and told the court about some of the health issues she's had since going into the house.

Four State Police investigators who interviewed Lynn and Lyndsey Maxwell also took the stand. They talked about how the Maxwells described their living conditions and how they had put Aland Jones in charge of Erin the day she died.

The defense tried to paint the Troopers' testimony as a conspiracy against the Maxwells, pointing out none of the interviews were recorded.

The trial will resume Tuesday night in Palermo Town Court.

July 31, 2009: Testimony resumed in the child endangerment trial of Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell, Friday night. In reality though, it seemed like a repeat of Thursday night’s session. Apparently the investigator, who testified Thursday, was cross-examined again Friday.

State Police Investigator Joe Harriger told jurors about the stench that surfaced around the Maxwell’s home. He referred to it as a “strong ammonia odor” that floated in from as far away as the driveway.

Harriger also painted a picture of what it looked like inside the Maxwell’s home. At one point, he told jurors about dead animals that were kept inside a freezer.

Investigator says he was trapped in Erin Maxwell's room
The Post-Standard - 07/30/09

A state police investigator, called to look into the death of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell, said he once got locked in the girl's bedroom when the door closed behind him and he had to yell for help.

Investigator Joseph Harriger, of the Forensic Investigation Unit, testified Thursday night in Palermo Town Court that there were at least two to three locking mechanisms on the exterior door and interior half-door of Erin's bedroom.

Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, Erin's father and stepmother, are charged with four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child. Two of the charges stem from Erin being locked in her room Aug. 15 and Aug. 29. Erin died Aug. 30 of asphyxiation. An autopsy revealed sexual trauma was a contributing factor.

The other two endangering charges stem from the conditions Erin was living in.

NYSP investigator takes the stand in Maxwell trial
WSYR News - 07/30/09

There was more testimony Thursday night from first responders in the child endangerment trial of Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell.

The couple face four counts each and are on trial in Palermo Town Court.

Thursday night was the second night of testimony in the case. The Maxwells were charged following the death of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell last August.

State police say the girl was living in deplorable conditions at the time.

State Police Investigator Joe Harriger told the jury he could sense a strong ammonia odor from the driveway. Upon entering the house, he saw trash piled up in an enclosed porch, cats and chickens in the kitchen, along with food and trash all over the counters.

He also said that upon opening the freezer he saw bags of food, and plastic grocery bags with frozen kittens inside.

Opening statements delivered in Maxwell trial
WSYR-TV - 07/29/09

Opening statements were delivered Wednesday night in the child endangerment trial of Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, the father and stepmother of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell. Opening statements took about an hour; the first witness to take the stand was State Trooper Shawn Finkle, who was among the first to get to the Maxwells’ home the night Erin was found strangled.

Finkle said he saw trash piled about a foot and a half high in an enclosed porch, and saw animals in cages inside the kitchen. He also said there was a strong smell of cat urine or ammonia.

The defense attorney asked Finkle whether he saw feces or urine; many times, Finkle said he could not recall.

Both Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell will take the stand at some point during the trial, as will other first responders, including Palermo firefighters and state troopers.

Jurors were shown over two dozen photos of the inside of the Maxwell home; the Maxwells say the photos show the house was not as cluttered or filthy as was first reported. The Maxwells say state police and other people who went through the house after the incident wreaked havoc on the home.

Tuesday night, it took four hours of questioning potential jurors before six jurors and two alternates were seated.

The jurors were asked about what they've heard about the case, and whether they had any ties to the Department of Social Services or local police agencies.

The Maxwells are facing four counts of child endangerment, accused of forcing Erin to live in a trash-filled home and keeping her locked in her room.

First witness tells jury about bad smells, garbage and feces inside Maxwell house
The Post-Standard - 07/29/09

The first prosecution witness in the trial of Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell Wednesday night spoke of garbage, horrible smells, piles of cat feces and large numbers of cats and caged animals in the couple's Palermo house.

The Maxwells shared the home on state Route 264 with Lindsey's daughter, Erin, 11, and Lynn's grown son, Alan Jones. Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell are on trial in Palermo Town Court, charged with four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child. Erin died Aug. 30 of asphyxiation. An autopsy revealed sexual trauma as a contributing factor. Jones is charged with her murder.

Erin lived in horrible conditions and was locked in her bedroom on two occasions, authorities have said.

State Trooper Shawn Finkle testified for nearly two hours. When asked to describe what he saw in the house, Finkle told Assistant Oswego County District Attorney Mark Moody he saw a foot-and-a-half pile of garbage about eight feet long on the enclosed porch, caged chickens and cats in the kitchen and cobwebs on the light fixtures.

His clothes smelled of cat urine after only 20 minutes in the house, Finkle said.

Defense lawyer Salvatore Lanza asked Finkle about the age of the house, but Finkle did not know. Lanza also wanted to know exactly where Finkle saw what he thought were feces.

Once, he asked Finkle if the piles of brown stuff on the floor "was tested or smelled."

Lanza pressed Finkle when the trooper admitted there were some areas of the house where he didn't see feces or wet urine spots.

Opening statements began at 7:10 p.m. and were a bit heated.

Moody charged that Lanza was spending too much time talking about Erin's death and this case has nothing to do with that.

Lanza accused Moody of showboating and bringing up items such as the condition of Erin's room that he said are not part of the charges against Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell.

Maxwells appear in court
Captial 9 News - 05/12/09

A Palermo town judge will decide whether to allow certain physical evidence at the trial of Erin Maxwell's father and step-mother.

Lindsay and Lynn Maxwell appeared in court Monday. They're charged with endangering the welfare of the 11-year-old girl, who later died. Erin Maxwell's step-brother is charged with her murder.

Lindsay and Lynn Maxwell's lawyer is asking the judge to throw out evidence he says was obtained illegally when state police searched the Maxwells' home. Prosecutors say the motion is unnecessary.

"There's really no physical evidence to suppress. The only thing I'm offering is photographic evidence that was obtained during the execution of the search warrant. And as long as the officers were properly on the premises, which they were, by virtue of the warrant, then there's no basis to 'suppress' the photographs taken by the police," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Donald Todd.

If prosecutors are going to bring photographs to trial, the Maxwells' lawyer says he wants the judge to rule in advance on whether to allow them. He says he plans to make that request formally next week.

"I'm asking the court to review a number of items that the district attorney wants to put into evidence. And I want the court to rule on whether they should go into evidence. Here the district attorney is telling the judge that I can't do that. It's ridiculous," said defense attorney Sal Lanza.

NY couple will face child endangerment charges
WCAX - 03/12/09

A judge is refusing to drop child endangerment charges against a central New York couple accused of starving their 11-year-old daughter, who police say was later murdered by her stepbrother.

Palermo Town Judge Robert Wood says there is enough evidence to support the six counts of child endangerment that Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell face.

Erin Maxwell died in August after being found unresponsive in the family's Oswego County home. An autopsy concluded she died from asphyxia. The parents say she accidentally hung herself, imitating a scene from 1 of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

Lynn Maxwell's son, 27-year-old Alan Jones, has been charged with strangling Erin.

Authorities say the Maxwell home was filled with garbage and more than 100 cats. State troopers also found the carcasses of a number of kittens in the household freezer.

Defense lawyer says he has evidence Erin Maxwell, 11, of Palermo, played torture game
Oswego County News - 01/16/09

ies and Neighbors in Oswego County
The following article is part of our archive
Defense lawyer says he has evidence Erin Maxwell, 11, of Palermo, played torture game
He'll try to get bail lowered for client, charged in Palermo girl's death.
Friday, January 16, 2009
By Kathy Coffta Sims
Staff writer

The lawyer for the man accused of killing 11-year-old Erin Maxwell says he has evidence that supports his theory that the child accidentally strangled herself.

Erin Maxwell was found unresponsive at her Palermo home on state Route 264 late in the afternoon of Aug. 29. She died at University Hospital early Aug. 30. An autopsy lists asphyxia as the cause of her death with sexual trauma as a contributing factor.

Salvatore Lanza, representing Maxwell's stepbrother Alan Jones, 28, who is charged with second-degree murder in her death, talked Thursday about a statement Erin's aunt gave to police in Reno, Nev. Jeanette Maxwell-Santiago recounted for police how her daughter, Jamilla, told her about a time when Erin wanted to play a game she called "torture." Lanza said Maxwell-Santiago's daughter described the game as Erin placing her hands around Jamilla's neck and pretending to choke her or vice versa.

Erin went to visit relatives in Nevada during the summer months.

Lanza said the statement from Maxwell-Santiago was included in more than 500 pages of documents he has been given by the Oswego County District Attorney's Office so he can prepare for the case.

Lanza has maintained that Erin's death was an accident .

Erin Maxwell (11) R.I.P. 2vvrv44
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PostSubject: Re: Erin Maxwell (11) R.I.P.   Erin Maxwell (11) R.I.P. Icon_minitimeMon Nov 30, 2009 7:28 am

March 18, 2009
Before I post the current news story on this case, I want to give the readers a little background information about the life and death of Erin Maxwell

Erin lived in Palermo, New York with her father, Lindsey Maxwell, stepmother, Lynn Maxwell and her 27 year old step-brother, Alan Jones (Jones has been charged with her death.) in a home that has since been condemned and described by many as deplorable.

“When State Police were called to Erin Maxwell’s home August 29th, they were appalled by what they found. They encountered an overpowering stench, more than a hundred cats and other animals, piles of garbage and excrement. Before they could investigate the homicide of the 11 year old girl, troopers called in the SPCA to clear out the animals.

During the course of Erin’s short life, Child Protective Services received numerous reports concerning her safety and well-being. Most of the reports received listed concerns such as: the child reeked of cat urine, and the smell was offensive, Erin had been disiplined by her father with a belt, she was kept locked in her bedroom, sometimes sent to bed without dinner, that the home was filthy, Erin was sometimes left in the care of a brother who was mentally slow, that the home was filled with garbage and used cat litter, had rodents and that Erin would steal and horde food, even going so far as to dig through the garbage cans in order to have something to eat.

From all that I have read when DSS visited the home, they found the majority of the concerns in this reports to be true, yet they left this little girl in this home in the custody of her father and stepmother and closed the case…each and everytime!

Oswego County Social Services Commissioner, Frances Lanigan has been quoted as saying, “at the time, there was no reason to remove Erin.” I disagree, the conditions of this home were sickening, no child should have to live like that, these parents were substantiated against and each and everytime the case was then closed.

The state has now released the fatality report, which does in fact find fault with the Oswego County DSS’s handling of this case and notes that they did not follow policies as they are required to by law, yet they state at the very end of this…no further action is required….you know what this sounds like…This is the exact same finding that the Oswego County DSS had for Erin’s parents…this is what you are doing wrong, but we aren’t going to do a damn thing about it. Case Closed!

You gave the Maxwell’s too many chances to make their home into a safe and loving environment and they failed to do so. You cannot now implement changes and submit a corrective action plan, and hope it improves the public’s view of OCDSS, because none of these things will bring Erin back.

You messed up and now it is too late to fix the damage that you have done! DSS in this case should be charged with endangering the well-being of a child, failure to protect, failure to follow statutory law, endangering the welfare of a child and any other crime that fits the neglegence pro se you have committed in this case.

You can judge for yourself, I will be posting not only the State Fatality report here, but the report that the Oswego County DSS released that cleared themselves of any wrong doing in this case…like I always say, Allowing DSS to investigate theirselves in these cases is like allowing a murder to be the judge and jury in his own trial…of course he will find himself innocent.

On a different note there is one glaring news report that concerns me, Erin was apparently raped, sodimized, and strangled…yet I found a news report about the DNA that states there was no DNA match to her step-brothers DNA. I am looking into this, but have yet to find anything more about it. I will post here when I find something.

I will start with some of the ealier news reports that I have collect on this case.



By Jim Kenyon
Thursday, October 02, 2008
OSWEGO — Jackie Siver wept as she read Social Services commissioner Fran Lanigan’s report on how Child Protective caseworkers handled the Erin Maxwell case. It was Siver’s complaint that sparked an investigation into living conditions in 2006. “She’s gone.” she said, “They had an obligation in my mind to do something about this.”

11 year old Erin Maxwell died on August 29th in her Palermo home under conditions State Police called “deplorable.” Her father, stepmother and stepbrother said Erin apparently accidentally hanged herself, but her death is listed as a homicide. The Medical Examiner’s report says the girl also suffered “sexual trauma.”

The DSS report released Thursday documents three investigations into reports of filthy conditions at the Maxwell’s home. The first on July 25th 2003, alleged acts of “inadequate guardianship” of Erin including “hitting her with a belt” and being put to bed without supper in a “filthy dirty” house. After three unannounced visits, investigators found Erin was “happy and outgoing” and had “no bruises or marks.” Though the house had an “odor” with animals living in the house, it “exceeded minimal standards:” So the caseworker determined the child was “safe and unharmed.”

The second report on November 19th 2004, complained erin’s clothes “wreaks of cat urine.” After visiting the home, the caseworker said the house was “clean but in disrepair.” The complaint was “unfounded.”

Siver’s complaint on March 27th, 2006, found “three foot high piles of garbage and cat litter”, an “overwhelming odor” and many animals. Though follow up visits found improvement, the caseworker indicated “inadequate guardianship against all three adults”, “The house fails to meet minimum standards.” But “the child is not being impacted negatively.” So the case was closed.

Siver told Action News, “So the 3rd time they’re called there they find these conditions and they say there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s OK to leave that child there.”

Lanigan’s report concludes, “…caseworkers followed the procedures for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect established in New York State.” “Clearly… the four separate caseworkers who investigated the Maxwell family could not have foreseen the tragic end to Erin Maxwell’s life…”

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church says the purpose of this report was to get information out to the public about what happened and give people a better understanding of how Child Protective Services operates.

Commissioner Lanigan says the report shows her caseworkers did their jobs, but added they do not have a crystal ball. She hopes “there will be justice for what happened to Erin.”

The State is reviewing the actual case files to determine any wrongdoing on the part of Oswego County Department of Social Services.

There are still no arrests in the death of Erin Maxwell.



By Jeremy Ryan
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 at 2:34 p.m.

I do not have the web address for this story

FULTON — Action News has obtained the court documents relating to the arrest of Erin Maxwell’s father and stepmother on charges stemming from her death in August. 35-year-old Lindsey W. Maxwell and 53-year-old Lynn D. Maxwell are each charged with six counts of endangering the welfare of a child. They each appeared in court today, where each pleaded not guilty to all six charges.

In the documents, police allege that the Maxwell home on State Route 264 in Palermo was in their words an “unsanitary environment” and “involved a substantial risk of danger to (Erin’s) life or health”. The documents state that the home housed approximately 100 live cats, as well as live chickens and birds. The house “had animal urine and feces throughout”, and investigators say they found 20 dead kittens stored in a freezer alongside food items.

The documents go on to allege that the 11-year-old Erin Maxwell was kept locked in her bedroom by means of wooden half-door and a separate screen door made of chicken wire. Both were secured with locks or latches on the outside of the doors, preventing Erin from letting herself out.

Police say that the locks were in use on the day that Erin was discovered fatally injured in the home.

Erin’s stepbrother, 27-year-old Alan L. Jones, was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He is facing a life sentence if convicted.

Both Lynn and Lindsey Maxwell are due back in court in December.

Inside Erin Maxwell’s bedroom

By Jim Kenyon
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 5:35 p.m.

PALERMO — When State Police were called to Erin Maxwell’s home August 29th, they were appalled by what they found. They encountered an overpowering stench, more than a hundred cats and other animals, piles of garbage and excrement. Before they could investigate the homicide of the 11 year old girl, troopers called in the SPCA to clear out the animals.

Today the house outside the Village of Palermo is vacant. The Town has deemed it unfit to live in. Now that it’s been cleared as a crime scene, a number of volunteers and workers from the SPCA have been in and out of the home and they’ve seen Erin Maxwell’s bedroom.

No one was willing to talk to us on camera, but the witnesses to the inside of the house told me the door to the girl’s bedroom was cut off at the top leaving a gap high enough for an adult to look in, but too high for a child to see out. The door had an exterior lock. In addition they told us the bedroom door was caged in by chicken wire with yet another lock on a gate.

The people who looked in the room told Action News it was neater than the rest of the house but said it was “more like a cage than a little girl’s room.”

State Police Lieutenant Troy Little said Tuesday he “can’t confirm” the description “right now”, but he’s “not going to deny it.”

There are still no arrests in the killing of Erin Maxwell. The girl’s stepbrother is still considered a person of interest, but is not in police custody.

The SPCA says they’ve recovered 118 cats from the house and property along with a dog. Workers and volunteers expect to take the chickens to a farm animal sanctuary possibly this evening. The Maxwell family has given the SPCA access to their property.

Police expand Maxwell DNA search
Friday, October 03, 2008 at 5:45 p.m.

FULTON, OSWEGO COUNTY — A new twist in the case of Erin Maxwell as State Police have apparently expanded their investigation.

From the day Erin Maxwell died on August 29th, State Police have considered her stepbrother, Alan Jones a “person of interest”. The 27-year-old man was alone in the house with the 11-year-old girl when Jones claims he found Erin hanging in her bedroom by a cord. Erin’s death certificate lists “sexual trauma” as a contributing factor. State Police took a DNA sample from Jones.

Now family attorney Sal Lanza feels they’ve eliminated Jones as a suspect. “There was no match… they would have arrested Alan Jones days ago and he’d be sitting in jail right now. So what that tells me they’re going to have to rule out the remaining family members in the house.”

Lanza says State Police investigators have also taken DNA samples from Erin’s father Lindsey Maxwell and stepmother Lynn Maxwell. “They’re looking at the wrong people. they should be looking elsewhere. We stated all along that this is an accident.”

Lanza also revealed that extended family members in Nevada are being questioned. Erin spent much of the summer visiting those relatives. Lanza added that Thursday’s report detailing three investigations by social service caseworkers into living conditions at the house in Palermo confirms the family did not abuse the little girl. “It’s a rush to judgement. It’s unfortunate. We have to sift through all the facts and wait and see what the New York State Police come up with.”

Lanza says he has requested a copy of the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report. He feels it may shed some light on when the girl suffered the sexual trauma.

State Police have not returned our calls on this case.

Could Erin Maxwell case change state guidelines?

Updated: 10/10/2008 11:04 PM
By: Katie Morse


OSWEGO COUNTY — Since the tragic death of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell, the community has been quick to point fingers at the Department of Social Services, however, the Department says it followed state guidelines, which didn’t call for Erin to be removed from her home at the time.

“Our role is not to go in and, you know, tear apart families. Our role is there to protect the child and to secondly then do what might need to be done in order to keep the family intact. Keep them together,” said Frances Lanigan, the Oswego County Social Services Commissioner.

“They visited her home three times. They didn’t find any cause to pull her out of the home, but that’s a pretty high standard,” said Assemblyman Will Barclay. “And frankly, they may be correct in that standing, but clearly something did not go right here and if the laws were followed, maybe we need to change the laws to prevent such a tragedy from happening in the future.”

Across Oswego County, citizens are making it clear they think change is needed. The case is on the minds of officials in neighboring counties, who say the traditional notion of family court being designed to reunite a family should change.

“If we refocus that legislatively and said that the paramount purpose of family court, Department of Social Services and many other agencies should be the protection of that child, whether or not it involves reuniting that child with the family, that the paramount purpose should be the protection of that child, I think that that would be something that a lot of DSS workers would welcome and support,” said Bill Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County District Attorney

Lawmakers say it will take time to examine the case and decide if the system has to change.

“If we are overly, heavily reliant on trying to keep the families together, maybe we should look at changing the law, and maybe this Erin Maxwell case, if there’s any good that can come out of this thing is that we can investigate that and see if that is the best policy going forth,” said Barclay.

Assemblyman Will Barclay has already drafted legislation that would add an investigative review process to cases handled by social services.

State releases report on Erin Maxwell case

Updated: 03/18/2009 11:57 AM
By: Web Staff

OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. — Since the death of 11-year-old Erin Maxwell in August, several investigations began looking into the living conditions at her home in Palermo. So far, one investigation ended with Erin’s father and stepmother charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

On Wednesday, the state’s office of children and family services released a report of their own during a special meeting with the county’s health and human services committee.

Social services has come under fire after it was revealed that case workers visited Erin three times in four years but never took her from the home. The last visit came in 2006.

Back in October, Social Services Commissioner Frances Lanigan said at the time, there was no reason to remove Erin.

“I’m not sure how our investigation two years ago, over two years, would have predicted the kind of situation that Erin was found to be in at the time of her death. I wish we did have a crystal ball. We don’t have a crystal ball,” said Lanigan.

But some in the community feel differently. They started a petition asking for the commissioner to resign.

One person who signed the petition is Bill Salmonsen, who says he saw the horrible conditions Erin lived in firsthand when his car broke down in front of the Maxwell’s house last year.

“I firmly believe that Frances Lanigan should be fired. They shouldn’t have to wait for her to resign, she should be fired.” said Salmonsen.

County legislature chairman Barry Leeman has read the state’s report and says there isn’t anything in it that suggests commissioner Lanigan should be fired, but that topic would certainly be discussed by the committee.



You can find more news stories on Erin’s case at the following links:
Related Links

Court Documents Provide Insite Into Palermo Girl’s Death:


Jones Arraigned: Judge Denies Request to Reduce Bail:


Community Reacts to Arrest of Family Members:


Stepbrother Charged With Murder in Maxwell Case:


Investigation Continues Into Erin Maxwell’s Death:


DSS Releases Maxwell Report:


Palermo Community Holds Vigil:


SPCA Still Working To Remove Animals From Maxwell Home:


Maxwell Family Theory:


More Information Released By Oswego County In Maxwell Case:


Little Insight Offered Into Palermo Girl’s Death:


Barclay Proposes Tougher Laws Regarding Social Services:


Erin’s Law Proposed:


Rope, Sword Among Items Seized From Palermo House:


Social Services Asks State To Review Erin Maxwell Case:


Vigil Held For Palermo Homicide Victim:


Investigation Continues Into Death Of Palermo Girl:


Palermo Girls Father Talks About HIs Daughter:


Police Still Investigating Death of Palermo Girl:


Police Investigate Homicide In Palermo:


More Articles:


Crime Case Files: Erin Maxwell Case:




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Alan Jones, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell
UPDATE 10/7/08 – Alan Jones has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the strangulation death of Erin Maxwell. Jones is Erin’s adult stepbrother who was home alone with her at the time of her death. Also arrested were Erin’s father, Lindsey Maxwell, and her stepmother, Lynn Maxwell. They are each charged with six counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Alan Jones is being held on $100,000 cash or $250,000 surety bond. The Maxwells are each being held on $2500 cash or $5000 surety bonds. Warrants were issued Friday after indictments were handed down by a grand jury in the case.


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