Niagara Gazette

Courts

March 8, 2013

Best seeks separate trial in Tennant case

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Buffalo teen, accused of helping his friend dispose of the body of a murdered 5-year-old, is asking to have his trial separated from his co-defendant.

The lawyer for Tyler Best filed a motion for “severance” on Thursday, but said a ruling on statements made by the accused killer to police should probably be made first.

“This motion may be somewhat premature,” defense attorney James Faso told Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III during a brief hearing. 

Faso suggested the matter of separate trials should be considered after Murphy rules on whether statements John Freeman Jr. made to Falls police detectives will be admitted at an upcoming trial. 

Prosecutors had no comment in court on Faso’s request. Faso was unable to explain his request because of a gag order that bars lawyers in the case from speaking to reporters on any matters other than scheduling.

Murphy is expected to rule on the admissability of Freeman’s statements by April 4. The judge scheduled a hearing on Faso’s severance request for April 5.

Best, 18, is charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution in the murder of Isabella Tennant. His best friend, Freeman, is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Police and prosecutors have said they believe that Freeman was the killer of the little girl and that Best’s only role in the incident was to help dispose of the body in a garbage tote. Investigators have said that Best led them to Tennant’s body after he showed up at police headquarters, appearing shaken and remorseful, on the morning of Aug. 26.

Murphy has already ruled that a 33-minute videotaped interview between Best and Falls police detectives, as well as a written confession and a DNA sample he gave them, can be used at his trial.

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