Rochester (WSYR-TV) – The man who killed 11-year-old Erin Maxwell four years ago at their Palermo home has had his murder conviction reduced on appeal.
A State Appellate Division Panel in Rochester has reduced the conviction of Alan Jones on a charge of murder in the second degree to manslaughter in the second degree.
The case will be sent back to Oswego County Court for sentencing on the manslaughter conviction.
The case of the child’s murder gripped Oswego County and the surrounding region for more than a year. Jones was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing his stepsister inside their home in August 2008.
Manslaughter in the second degree carries a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison.
Attorneys for Jones argued the appeal before the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in September.
The District Attorney at the time of the original conviction, Donald Dodd, made the case that Jones put a rope around Erin’s neck and strangled her.
Jones’ attorney argues that Oswego County prosecutors didn’t support their charges and that Jones acted with depraved indifference and, under the law, that didn’t prove that Jones killed the child.
In the ruling, the Appellate Court said evidence presented at the trial showed that Jones “did not abandon the victim and, instead, demonstrated that the defendant called 911 regarding the victim’s asphyxiation, administered CPR and was present at the scene when the authorities arrived.”
The ruling stated that, “the conviction of depraved indifference murder is not supported by legally sufficient evidence,” but also stated, “a verdict convicting defendant of [manslaughter in the second degree] would not be against the weight of the evidence.”
The court rejected Jones’ contentions that he did not receive a fair trial, that he was denied effective assistance of counsel, and that the judgment should be reversed because of improper conduct of the jury.
Dodd retired in 2011 and the current Oswego County District Attorney, Gregory Oakes, argued the appeal by Jones' attorneys. In a written statement, Oakes said that he is "saddened" by the court's decision and reaffirmed his belief that the Palermo man should spend the rest of his life in prison.
Oakes also said he intends to appeal the case to the Court of Appeals in order to have the murder conviction reinstated.
"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," Oakes said.