MAYVILLE – Jury selection in the Nayla Hodnett murder trial was completed Wednesday morning in Chautauqua County Court.
A court clerk told WNYNewsNow that 12 jurors and four alternates were selected. Arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Tyler A. “Cash” Perez, 35, was indicted by a Grand Jury in March. Bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million property by Judge Stephen Cass. Cass, however, did say that M. William Boller, a judge from Buffalo, will be presiding.
WNYNewsNow spoke with Public Defender Ned Barone, who is representing Perez, 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.”
“…..We don’t ignore these cases, we continue to look at them.”
“As an agency, we are happy to see this case is finally moving forward,” Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings told WNYNewsNow following Perez’s arraignment. “This has been an ongoing investigation since Day One, and we are hoping for a good outcome.”
Snellings 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.”
“There’s no statute of limitations on murder. Anytime we get any new type of evidence, we always try to follow-up, and you never know when a case is going to break,” Snellings said. “Just because you aren’t hearing things in the media, doesn’t mean we aren’t continuing our investigations, we aren’t looking into cases. The police aren’t always the decision makers when cases go forward, and when they get prosecuted.”
First Assistant District Attorney Michael Flaherty will be the prosecutor in this case.