Defense feels murder suspect's right to due process was violated

LEWISTON, ID - A motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment of Murder in the First
Degree was filed on behalf of a local woman accused of a murder in Nez Perce County.

Natasha Nichole Hodges was accused by a grand jury in Nez Perce County of Murder in the First Degree, stemming from the tragic death of two-year-old Rylee Mingo. However, Defense Attorney Rick Cuddihy is asking for the indictment to be dismissed based on, what they deem as, the prosecution's cumulative errors.

"There were misstatements, evidence that was false that was presented and that evidence all unfavorable to our client and gave the grand jury an implication that she had committed this," said Cuddihy.

The secret grand jury in question is the one that occurred on April 8th through the 10th of this year, and seldom do we get a peek inside these proceedings, however the defense feels that it's the details within this time period that sealed the fate for a young Lewiston woman.

"We believe that the grand jury would not have rendered an indictment, had they heard a more fair unbiased presentation of the evidence," said Cuddihy.

The 29-page motion that was filed on Wednesday includes several accusations of misconduct by the prosecution. According to court documents, "the prosecutor repeatedly utilized powers which were well beyond the scope of a prosecutor's authority." The document goes on to state how the prosecutor "steered the jury away from looking at all exculpatory evidence and directed them towards recalling testimony which supported the prosecution theory in order to induce the jury to render an indictment." It also refers to one example provided as a "heinous instance of grand jury manipulation."

"The thrust of it is that when you add all of that together cumulatively it did create a biased grand jury," said Cuddihy.

There are numerous reasons outlined by the defense in favor of dismissal.

"If the state commits a number of errors that all add up to a bias in the grand jury then it would allow the judge, if he believes that cumulative error occurred, to dismiss the indictment," said Cuddihy.

A hearing on this motion has yet to be set; however, if the judge does not side with the defense, Natasha Hodges will be heading to trial in March of 2014.

Dickerson was unavailable for comment.