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Plea deal possible for Best in disposal of 5-year-old’s body

LOCKPORT – A plea bargain may be on tap for Tyler S. Best, the Buffalo man who led Niagara Falls police to the body of 5-year-old Isabella M. Tennant, and to her killer.

In a brief Niagara County Court appearance Friday, defense attorney James J. Faso Jr. told County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III: “There has been some discussion. I’d like to adjourn this about a week, sit down with his family and maybe we can make some progress.”

Murphy rescheduled the case for Friday afternoon.

Attorneys in the case are under a gag order and are not allowed to answer reporters’ questions.

Best, 19, of Barnard Street, Buffalo, is scheduled for trial Aug. 19 on two felony charges, hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence.

Police said he was called by his friend John R. Freeman Jr. after the latter strangled the girl to death on the night of Aug. 26, while he was baby-sitting her in her great-grandparents’ home on Sixth Street in the Falls.

The two carried the body into an alley between Third and Fourth streets, where they dropped it into a stolen garbage tote.

The next morning, Best went to Niagara Falls Police Headquarters and told police the story. He’s been in jail ever since, and the 11 months will count toward whatever sentence he eventually receives. The maximum is seven years on one of the fewlonies and four years on the other.

Freeman, 17, of Sixth Street, was a neighborhood friend of Hank and Sharon Lascelle, in whose home the girl died after the residents went to bed.

Isabella’s mother, Crystal Walker of Cheektowaga, had left Isabella there on her way to her job at a Niagara Falls bar.

After considering a psychiatric defense, Freeman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder July 3 and was promised a sentence of 20 to 22 years to life when he returns to court Sept. 5.

Also in Murphy’s courtroom Friday, two 20-year-old Niagara Falls men were arraigned in the June 20 knife-point robbery and beating of a Niagara Falls man near the corner of 16th Street and Cleveland Avenue.

Tyrell J. Jordan of 18th Street and David Anthony of Ontario Avenue pleaded not guilty to first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and fourth-degree grand larceny. Murphy set bail at $100,000 each.

Jordan was out on $10,000 bail at the time of the robbery, as he had been arraigned Jan. 7 on a second-degree burglary indictment charging him with entering a house on Seneca Avenue in the Falls Oct. 23. Twice, Jordan rejected a plea offer with a seven-year maximum sentence.

After Jordan’s June 25 arrest on the knife-point robbery, Murphy raised the burglary bail to $50,000.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said because Jordan was free on bail when he allegedly committed another felony, and because he has a past violent felony conviction for a 2010 house burglary, Jordan faces mandatory consecutive sentencing on the two indictments.

That means a maximum of 40 years behind bars for Jordan if he is convicted as charged.

Anthony faces a 25-year maximum.

Murphy set a tentative trial date of Dec. 2 for the robbery case. Jordan’s burglary case is scheduled to be tried Sept. 9.