(4:25 PM) City Man Found Not Guilty In Death Of 16-Month-Old

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

MAYVILLE — A Jamestown man has been found not guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter for his role in the 2014 death of a 16-month-old.

The verdict was announced about an hour after jury deliberations began Monday in Chautauqua County Court.

Tyler Perez, 35, was indicted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter for his involvement in the death of Nayla Hodnett on April 17, 2014.

Hodnett died as the result of blunt force trauma, and an autopsy at the Erie County Medical Center determined the cause of death to be homicide.

Closing statements were made Monday before jury deliberations began. Public Defender Ned Barone, who represented Perez, did not call any witnesses to the stand.

Barone told The Post-Journal the Perez family was “ecstatic” over the not guilty verdicts.

“We believed in this case. We believed in the defense,” said Barone, noting that he was “frustrated and frightened” the case got this far. “The system worked.”

The three-day trial was heard in front of Judge M. William Boller.

Michael Flaherty, first assistant district attorney, prosecuted the case.

In a statement given to the media, District Attorney Patrick Swanson said, “While I disagree with the jury’s verdict, I have tremendous respect for their work and the legal process.”

“Michael Flaherty worked tirelessly on this case, and I hope his hard work is appreciated even if he was not able to secure a guilty verdict,” the DA continued. “We knew this case would be difficult from the beginning. We believed in it, but it was always going to be difficult.”