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(9:30 AM) Perez Rejects Plea Offer As Murder Trial Begins

Tyler A. Perez P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

MAYVILLE — A Jamestown man on trial for the April 2014 death of a 16-month-old rejected an offer this morning in Chautauqua County Court.

The offer would have 35-year-old Tyler 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.”

The trial is being heard in front of Judge M. William Boller.

The courtroom was cleared shortly before opening statement were to begin so a juror could be interviewed.

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.

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.

Following arraignment in March, Barone told reporters that Perez maintained his innocence.

“It’s merely an accusation,” Barone said at the time. “He’s maintained his innocence since the beginning.”

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson confirmed earlier this year the charges are directly related to the April 2014 incident. He said similar cases that don’t immediately result in criminal charges are continually looked at for any new developments.

“Obviously, with any case of this nature, if it’s left unresolved it continues to be looked for analysis of different evidence (and) witnesses coming forward,” the district attorney said. “It’s no different than any other cold case, and I wouldn’t call it a cold case because it was kind of always on the front burner, but additional investigation sometimes gets you where you are.”