LITTLE VALLEY — A Salamanca woman tampered with evidence stemming from her assisting a murder suspect after a December stabbing death in Salamanca, including hiding the murder weapon in her garage.

Melinda Clark, 49, of Salamanca, pleaded guilty Thursday in Cattaraugus County Court to tampering with evidence, an E felony. The incident occurred on or about Dec. 8 in the town of Salamanca, when she gave Brandon Francis, 22, a ride in her car and hid key pieces of evidence for him, shortly after Francis allegedly killed 22-year-old Juwaan Holt of Buffalo.

Francis then fled to the Las Vegas area, but was apprehended the next day and extradited back to Cattaraugus County on a charge of second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony.

District Attorney Lori Pettit Rieman had alleged that Francis contacted Clark after stabbing Holt to death during the early morning hours of Dec. 8 at 357 Broad St., in what has been described as a drug-related robbery.

Rieman described Clark and Francis as friends and that her office had video surveillance footage showing Clark picking up Francis not far from the murder scene, and that it’s believed she then drove Francis to a relative’s house in Olean.

Without Clark’s help, Francis then took a flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to Henderson, Nev., where his father lives, according to authorities.

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 — believed to be the murder weapon — inside a box in the garage, Rieman said.

Sentencing for Clark is scheduled for Nov. 4, Rieman said.

As for Francis, who remains incarcerated in Cattaraugus County Jail, he faces two counts of second-degree murder, as well as two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree robbery, class B felonies.

In other cases reported this week by Rieman’s office:

LAURIE NEWCOMB, 42, of Sout

h Dayton, was sentenced to 5 years of probation for her conviction to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, a class D felony. The incident occurred June 19, 2018, in the village of South Dayton, when the defendant possessed a controlled substance with the intent to sell it.

CHRISTOPHER SPILLER,

42, of Olean, was sentenced to 1 year conditional discharge for his conviction to criminal contempt in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred Oct. 21 in Olean, when the defendant intentionally disobeyed or resisted the lawful process or other mandate of a court by having contact with a victim of a duly served order of protection issued by the Allegany County Court.

LARNELL GRAHAM

, 22, of Lyndon, was sentenced to 1 year conditional discharge for her conviction to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred Oct. 17 in the village of South Dayton, when the defendant possessed a controlled substance.

BRADLEY CUNNINGHAM

, 23, of Ellicottville, was sentenced to 3 years’ probation to run concurrent for his conviction to assault in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred on or about April 15 in Salamanca, when the defendant recklessly caused physical injury to another person.

CARA L. SKYE,

31, of Steamburg, was sentenced to 1 year in the Cattaraugus County Jail for driving while intoxicated, a class E felony; 6 months concurrent for aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a class E felony; and her driver’s license was revoked for 1 year. The incident occurred Dec. 3, 2017, in Salamanca.

WALTER C. RANDALL,

41, of Hinsdale, but presently incarcerated in the county jail, was sentenced to 1 year in jail for his conviction to failure to register as a sex offender, a class D felony in May in Olean.

TAHLIA J. WILLIAMS,

39, of Irving, was sentenced to 3 years’ probation for assault in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred Dec. 15, 2018, in the town of Perrysburg, when the defendant caused physical injury to another person.

ALEX B. STAKEL,

47, of Olean, was sentenced to 1 year conditional discharge for menacing in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor, and aggravated harassment in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred May 28, 2018, in Olean.

JAMES HANSON,

35, of Fredonia, was sentenced as a predicate felony offender to 2 to 4 years in state prison for his conviction to burglary in the third degree, a class D felony. The incident occurred April 21, 2018, in the town of South Valley.

TAYLOR BROWN,

34, of Randolph, was sentenced to 5 years’ probation for DWI, a class E felony; 3 years’ probation for reckless driving, a misdemeanor, and had his driver’s license revoked for one year and ignition interlock for one year. The incident occurred March 21 in Salamanca, when her blood-alcohol content was .26.

KIRT D. NICE,

50, of Olean, was sentenced to 1 year in the county jail for grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony, and 1 year for criminal contempt in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor, to run consecutive, as well as restitution. The incident occurred April 29 in the town of Ellicottville when the defendant stole a motor vehicle and intentionally disobeyed or resisted the lawful process or other mandate of a court.

TONY PEEBLES JR.,

29, of Buffalo, pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony, and aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree, class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred on or about Nov. 10 in the town of East Otto, when the defendant allegedly possessed a narcotic drug and operated a motor vehicle while his license was suspended. The matter was adjourned for motions.

JUDSON D. BEATTIE,

32, of Salamanca, pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated family offense, class E felonies; assault in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor; and aggravated harassment in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred on or about Sept. 1, 2018, in the city of Salamanca, when the defendant allegedly intentionally caused physical injury to another person. The case was adjourned for motions.

STACEY SPENCER SR.

, 53, of Olean, pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, both class B felonies. The incident occurred on or about Dec. 27, 2017, in the city of Olean when the defendant allegedly sold a narcotic drug. The case was adjourned for motions.

KEENAN FITZGERALD,

28, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a class A misdemeanor, to satisfy a pending indictment. The incident occurred on or about Dec. 13 in the city of Salamanca when the defendant possessed a controlled substance. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6.

CAYLIE LAYFIELD,

30, of Carrollton, pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, a class E felony. The incident occurred on or about Jan. 18 in the town of Carrollton, when the defendant possessed a controlled substance with the intent to sell it. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

LAWAN S. MCCLAIN,

26, of Rochester, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a class A misdemeanor. The incident occurred on or about April 8, 2018, in the town of Olean, when the defendant possessed a narcotic drug with the intent to sell it. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

TORY ARRANCE, 30, of Jamestown, pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired by drugs intoxicated, a class D felony, and aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree, a misdemeanor to satisfy a pending indictment. The incident occurred on or about Feb. 17 in the town of Dayton, when the defendant drove while impaired by drugs. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)

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