Jamestown Man Charged In Nayla Hodnett Murder To Stand Trial In September

Image by Matt Hummel/WNYNewsNow.

MAYVILLE – The Jamestown man charged in connection with the 2014 death of Nayla Hodnett will stand trial in Chautauqua County Court starting 9:30 a.m., Sep. 17, with jury selection, a court clerk told WNYNewsNow Thursday.

Tyler A. “Cash” Perez, 35, of Jamestown, was arrested last month on a warrant for second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million property by Judge Stephen Cass. Cass, however, did say that a judge from Buffalo will be presiding.

A motion is scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m., May 20. Other pre-trial hearings are scheduled for 9:30 a.m., July 2.

WNYNewsNow spoke with Public Defender Ned Barone following the arraignment. Barone declined to discuss the specifics of the indictment, but he said that the charges are “merely an accusation” and that the “presumption of innocence” remains. In addition, Barone said that Perez has maintained his innocence for several years.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson declined to comment on specifics of the indictment, citing that the case is ongoing. At the time WNYNewsNow interviewed Swanson and Barone, the connection between Perez and the Hodnett case wasn’t immediately confirmed.

“With any case of this nature, if it’s left unresolved, it continues to be looked at for analysis of different evidence, witnesses coming forward,” Swanson said. “I wouldn’t call it a cold case because it was always on the front burner, but additional information sometimes gets you where you are.”

Swanson said that, within the last couple of weeks, a Chautauqua County Grand Jury met to discuss a potential indictment, but didn’t say when. In addition, Swanson said the Perez case and Rance Freeman murder indictment are examples of law enforcement remaining resilient.

“If you ask anyone involved in this line of work, including the officers investigating, there is no stopping on these cases until they’re resolved,” Swanson said. “The (Rance) Freeman case is a testament to the (Chautauqua) Sheriff’s Department continuing their work, and this case, this is JPD. We don’t ignore these cases, we continue to look at them.”

Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings told WNYNewsNow following the announcement of Perez’s indictment that he’s “happy” to see the case moving forward following a five-year investigation.

Snellings  also said that he couldn’t get into the specifics of the case. The Chief, however, said that the gathering and preservation of evidence in longer investigations “is key.” In addition, Snellings said that he hopes the Hodnett family can experience a feeling of “closure.”

“Our goal is to investigate cases and come to the truth and hopefully make an arrest at the conclusion,” Snellings said. “I don’t know how this replaces a 16-month-old child, but hopefully it brings some kind of closure to the family.”

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