Motion to dismiss filed for babysitter accused of killing toddler | News
The defense attorney for a 29-year-old Lewiston woman who was indicted in April for the 1st-degree murder of a Lewiston toddler she was babysitting filed a 29-page motion Wednesday asking the court to dismiss the indictment based on what he claims is prosecutor misconduct, a "heinous instance of grand jury manipulation," and the allowance of "false evidence."
Natasha Hodges has pleaded not guilty and a trial date of March 10, 2014 is set in Lewiston's Second District Court. She is accused of striking two-year-old Rylee Mingo in the abdomen on the morning of August 30th, 2012 resulting in abdominal bleeding that led to her death. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.
In the motion, attorney Rick Cuddihy stated that an indictment would not have occurred in the absence of misconduct by Nez Perce County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sandra Dickerson and in this case, "there was no direct evidence presented to the grand jury that would implicate Ms. Hodges in Rylee's death." He added that the case is "predicated upon the hazy supposition that Ms. Hodges was the only person present during the questionably relevant timeframe with the threshold physical strength necessary to cause Ryle's portal vein rupture."
He says "the court must determine whether independent of the inadmissible evidence, the grand jury received legally sufficient evidence to determine that probable cause existed."
According to the motion, the prosecutor is not given an advisory role during a grand jury hearing and is strictly limited to issuing and having grand jury subpoenas served for witnesses. "However, in this case, the prosecutor usurped the grand jury's power by unlawfully controlling the decisions that are supposed to be made by a purely independent grand jury. For example, when a juror asked to speak to a Child Protective Services officer that interviewed Ms. Hodges' two children, the prosecutor quickly dissuaded the juror from the idea saying, "Okay. Well, what she - the only thing she's going to be able to tell you is that she interviewed the children. She's not going to be able to tell you what the children said.""
Cuddihy further stated that Dickerson's actions "ultimately destroyed the independent function of the grand jury by subjugating all of its lawful functions to mediation by the biased prosecutor, essentially denying Ms. Hodges a fair hearing." Because of this, he says her due process was violated and the indictment should be dismissed.