Rochester (WSYR-TV) - The man who killed 11-year-old Erin Maxwell four years ago at their Palermo home was in court Tuesday, claiming that he should be a free man.
Attorneys for Alan Jones told a State Appellate Division Panel in Rochester that the 2009 conviction should be overturned and the case dismissed. That year, a jury found Jones guilty of second degree murder.
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.
The District Attorney at the time, Donald Dodd, made the case that Jones put a rope around Erin’s neck and strangled her.
“Unfortunately there's no way of reading into the mind of a person like this, but our view has always been, and a jury agreed, he did not intend to kill her but this was a consequence of his actions,” said current Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes.
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.
"As prosecutors, we have to look at the case law at the time we're prosecuting the case, what it says, work within that. If the case law shifts after that, there's not really anything we can do about that. Sometimes, particularly in this area of the law, depraved indifference murder sometimes it feels like we're standing on shifting sands," Oakes said.
John Cirando, who is representing Jones, said both his client and his mother, Lynn who were at the proceedings are optimistic about the appeal.
Cirando says the appeal should not only overturn the conviction, but, by law, it should prevent a retrial on another charge.
"The judge charged the jury, he required them to find that he did not commit an intentional murder, so we would say double jeopardy would attach to anything else they try to do in this case, if we're successful,” Cirando said.
The ruling of the five-judge panel could be revealed on Sept. 28 -- at the earliest. If the appeal goes through, Jones could be a free man after that.