(12:10 PM) Opening Statements Made In Murder Trial
MAYVILLE — Opening statements were given in the trial of a Jamestown man charged for the April 2014 death of a 16-month-old.
Tyler Perez, 35, has maintained his innocence over time and even denied a plea deal earlier today offered by the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office. The offer would have Perez plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter with a determinate sentence of 15 years in prison.
Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone said Perez had “no desire to accept the lesser plea.”
Perez has been jailed since March on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter for his role in the death of Nayla Hodnett, who investigators say died as the result of blunt force trauma
The trial is being heard in front of Judge M. William Boller.
Michael Flaherty, first assistant district attorney, provided an opening statement and handled examination of two witnesses called to testify. Flaherty, in his opening remarks, described the events that lead to the death of Hodnett, telling the jury that Perez killed the toddler as the result of blunt force trauma.
“She was beaten, beaten badly,” Flaherty said.
On the night of April 16, 2014, Hodnett — a resident of 218 1/2 Newland Ave. in Jamestown — was taken to WCA Hospital’s emergency room by her mother before being transferred to Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo via Starflight for further treatment.
She later died of her injuries the following day. An autopsy at the Erie County Medical Center determined the cause of death was a homicide.
Flaherty said Hodnett’s mother, Angel Hodnett, left Perez alone with her child while she went to a nearby deli and convenience store.
The prosecution alleges that in that time , Perez beat Nayla Hodnett that later resulted in her death.
Flaherty told jurors that Perez knew Hodnett was suffering and still “walked away” from the residence.
“He did not care,” Flaherty said.
Barone, in his opening statements, asked the jury not to “convict an innocent person” in order for the DA’s office to seek justice of a five-year-old case.
He described Perez as a father figure of Hodnett whom he treated like “gold.”
He described Angel Hodnett as the sole individual who truly knows what happened to the child in 2014. Speaking to jurors, Barone indicated that Angel Hodnett “has everything to gain” from Perez’s potential conviction.
Barone indicated that the prosecution has no direct evidence or eye witnesses to bring before the jury, noting that they have implicated Perez based on the fact that he had an opportunity of time to harm Hodnett.
He said Angel Hodnett was told by the DA’s office in interviews prior to Perez’s recent arrest that “somebody’s got to pay.”
Barone implied the prosecution is willing to convict an innocent man in order to “obtain justice for Nayla.”
See Friday’s edition of The Post-Journal for more coverage.