Natasha Hodges attorney asks for grand jury indictment to be dismissed

LEWISTON, ID - More than six months ago a grand jury in Nez Perce County decided there was enough evidence to charge Natasha Nichole Hodges with first-degree murder for the death of two-year-old Rylee Mingo.

But Tuesday, Hodge's attorney Rick Cuddihy is asking for that indictment to be dismissed.

"It's our position that Ms.Hodges constitutional rights were violated during this grand jury process," said Cuddihy.

"There is no extreme or outrageous conduct that would require dismissal of the indictment in this case your honor," said Nez Perce County Prosecuting Attorney, April Smith.

At issue is a grand jury hearing between April eighth and the tenth of this year. It's very rare to get a peak at these proceedings, but defense attorneys feel the evidence heard during this time period is what sealed the fate of the young Lewiston woman.

"When being asked what would happen to the defendant if they were to bound her over, and their response was nothing goes on their permanent record," said Cuddihy. "Nothing goes on her personal record. Why would the Prosecutor say that? This has changed Ms. Hodges life."

Cuddihy is arguing that the admission by the state of "hear say" evidence, the state failing to enclose evidence that refutes Hodges guilt, and repeat errors by the prosecutor are all reasons as to why the judge should dismiss the case.

"Those taken together cumulatively taint that grand jury process, and it's our position that the totality of all these errors, have resulted in a grand jury proceeding," said Cuddihy.

But the prosecution doesn't agree. They said there is sufficient evidence to support the grand jury indictment, such as the testimony from Doctor Aiken.

"What her medical opinion was, was clear," said Smith."Rylee had minutes to survive this injury. She did not have days, she did not have hours, she had minutes. And that is from her testimony."

According to the motion filed by Cuddihy, the prosecutor "steered the jury away from looking at all exculpatory evidence and refers to one example provided as a quote "heinous instance of grand jury manipulation." Accusations that Prosecutor April Smith said are untrue.

"The prosecutor at all times acted with integrity, followed Idaho criminal rules," said Smith. "There was no Prosecutorial misconduct."

Judge Jeff Brudie will make a decision on the motion within the next 30 days.

If the judge does not side with the defense, Natasha Hodges will be heading to trial in March of next year.