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Attorney for alleged accomplice rethinking strategy in murder case

LOCKPORT – The attorney for the Buffalo teen accused of helping dump the body of a slain 5-year-old girl in a garbage tote said Thursday that he is rethinking a motion to have his client’s case tried separately from that of the alleged killer. The possible change in strategy came after evidence admitted last week indicated the accused killer reportedly admitted the crime to police.

Tyler S. Best, 18, of Barnard Street, is charged with a felony count of tampering with physical evidence for allegedly helping 17-year-old John R. Freeman Jr. dispose of the girl’s body. The two are accused of throwing the body of Isabella S. Tennant, of Cheektowaga, in the tote after Freeman had allegedly strangled her in her great-grandparents’ house in Niagara Falls on Aug. 26.

Best’s attorney, James J. Faso Jr., told Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III that he’s considering modifying his severance motion after reviewing testimony given in Freeman’s hearing last week. Faso said after court that a prior gag order in the case prevented him from discussing what prompted the change in strategy.

But in the hearing last week, Murphy admitted into evidence all of Freeman’s statements to police, which included his comments about Best.

Best reportedly went to the Police Department while police were looking for Isabella and told police he had helped Freeman stuff the girl’s body into a stolen garbage tote, which they left in an alley.

Freeman, a frequent visitor to the home who sometimes baby-sat Isabella, had been the last to see her and was being questioned by police in the missing-child case. After getting the information from Best, detectives reportedly got Freeman to admit his guilt.

According to Freeman’s testimony read in court last week, he agreed to answer questions, saying, “I guess so, because I already heard Tyler Best snitched.”

Freeman then went further when pressed by Detective Daniel Dobrasz, saying, “I already heard he said I did it, so I did it.”

Freeman is charged with second-degree murder.

The judge told Faso in court Thursday that it may be best to hear both sides at the same time so Faso is able to respond to any information that comes to light extemporaneously.

Best and Freeman are to return to court together May 2.