LITTLE VALLEY — A Salamanca woman was sentenced Nov. 30 in Cattaraugus County Court to a conditional discharge of one year and 20 hours of community service for tampering with evidence in a 2018 investigation of a stabbing death.
Melinda Clark, 50, of Salamanca, was sentenced by Cattaraugus County Court Judge Ronald Ploetz for her conviction of tampering with evidence, reduced to a misdemeanor.
District Attorney Lori P. Rieman said the incident occurred Dec. 8, 2018, in the town of Salamanca when Clark “rendered criminal assistance to a person who had committed a class A felony.”
The indictment charged that she “concealed, altered or destroyed physical evidence that was about to be used in an official proceeding and intentionally obstructed, impaired or prevented law enforcement from performing an official function by means of intimidation, physical force or interference,” the district attorney said.
Clark pleaded guilty in September 2019 in the case.
Brandon Francis, 23, was sentenced in September 2019 to up to 25 years in state prison in the stabbing death of 22-year-old Juwaan Holt of Buffalo during what authorities said was a drug-related robbery.
In September 2019, Rieman said Clark gave Francis a ride in her car and hid evidence for him shortly after the stabbing. Rieman described Clark and Francis as friends and said that her office had video surveillance footage showing Clark picking up Francis not far from the scene of the stabbing, and that it was believed she then drove Francis to a relative’s house in Olean.
Without Clark’s help, Francis then took the flight to Nevada, where his father lives, according to authorities. He was later extradited to New York to face charges in the case.
While law enforcement was searching for Francis that weekend, they searched Clark’s Jimerson Road residence and found Francis’ clothes buried in garbage and a knife — the weapon used in the stabbing — inside a box in the garage, Rieman said.
IN OTHER COURT action, the following defendants pleaded guilty on Nov. 30:
Christopher M. Gunn, 34, of Salamanca, pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated.The incident occurred Feb. 9, in the Village of Allegany. Upon successful completion of Drug Treatment Court, sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2022.
Travis Martin, 40, of Salamanca, pleaded guilty by Superior Court Information to third-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a class E felony. The incident occurred Aug. 5, 2020, in the city of Salamanca, when the defendant possessed a machete or other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2021.
Nathaniel F. Skinner, 26, of Salamanca, pleaded guilty to aggravated family offense, a class E felony. The incident occurred July 17, in the town of Ischua, when he committed the misdemeanor of second-degree criminal contempt, a specified offense, Rieman said. It was Skinner’s conviction of one or more specified offenses within the immediately preceding five years. He was convicted Oct. 21, 2019 of second-degree criminal contempt. He will be sentenced Feb. 1.
There were also three arraignments:
Michael T. Kulczyk, 42, of Cattaraugus, pleaded not guilty to third-degree incest a class E felony, and first-degree coerecion, a class D felony. The incident occurred between June 1 and Aug. 16, 2020, in the town of East Otto. The matter has been adjourned for motions.
Eric J. Harrison, 26, of Cattaraugus, pleaded not guilty to second-degree burglary, a class D felony; aggravated family offense, a class E felony and second-degree criminal contempt, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred Sept. 18, 2020, in the city of Salamanca, when the defendant alleged knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime therein and violated a duly served order of protection issued by the court, Rieman said. The case has been adjourned for motions.
Adam Chandler, 32, of Randolph, pleaded not guilty to driving while ability impaired by drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana, drove across hazard markings, a violation, and inadequate plate lamp, a violation. The incident occurred Nov. 28, 2019, in the town of Olean, when the defendant allegedly operated a motor vehicle on a public highway, when his ability was impaired by drug and was in possession of marijuana, Rieman said. The case has been adjourned for motions.