The 51-year-old girlfriend of a man convicted of sexually assaulting her 13-year-old relative was sentenced Friday to a year in jail for lying under oath and trying to cause a mistrial.
Cynthia Marie Dunaway-Erickson was convicted Feb. 20 of one count of perjury and two counts of being an accessory after the fact. Orange County Superior Court Judge Maria Hernandez also placed her on three years of formal probation.
Dunaway-Erickson was given credit for 50 days in jail so far.
Dunaway-Erickson “wanted to be in a relationship … so badly that when she took the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, she told a lie,” Deputy District Attorney Denise Hernandez said in her opening statement of the defendant’s trial.
The case revolved around the earlier trial of Jeffrey Scott Jones, 58, who slashed his throat in the courtroom following his conviction for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl related to Dunaway-Erickson. Jones, a former teacher, was sentenced to 46 years to life in prison in March 2017.
Dunaway-Erickson did not believe the girl’s allegations, even when detectives showed her lab results that showed Jones’ DNA was found in the teen’s cervix, Hernandez said.
Jones’ attorneys argued that Dunaway-Erickson and the girl, who lived with the couple, used the same washcloth to clean themselves and that could explain how Jones’ semen ended up inside the teen.
Dunaway-Erickson lied in testimony about when she saw the girl emerge from a shower with wet hair in May 2013, when the girl lodged her allegations against Jones, Hernandez said. Dunaway-Erickson also alerted Jones’ defense team that a district attorney’s investigator was speaking loudly about the case in front of jurors during a break in the proceedings in an attempt to “get a mistrial, throw a monkey wrench in the trial,” the prosecutor said.
Dunaway-Erickson’s attorney, Ken Lewis, said she “did not commit perjury.” He said the investigator was speaking so loudly into his phone while talking with someone about the case that Dunaway-Erickson could hear what he was saying, so she alerted the defense attorney’s investigator.
“She does believe in Mr. Jones’ innocence to this day,” Lewis said at the outset of the trial. “She believes DNA is not always perfect … That’s clearly going to be a part of this case.”
Dunaway-Erickson did not lie about the timing of the girl’s shower, according to Lewis, who said she had a different recollection from when she spoke with detectives and when she testified three years later.
“She will testify as to why she remembered it differently three years later,” Lewis said in his opening statement. “She did not make up that story to aid and abet him … It was not a scheme or plot or something she was told to say.”
In Jones’ trial, prosecutors presented evidence he had sexual relationships with two underage students who were 16 and 17 at the time.
After he married the 16-year-old girl, he later had the 17-year-old move in and she got pregnant at 18, according to the evidence presented at trial.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: