Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 17, 2013

Deadlines set in child killing case

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT— A frustrated Niagara County court judge said Thursday that the murder trial of a Falls teenager needs to move forward and he set some deadlines to get that done.

Judge Matthew J. Murphy III told the lawyer for John Freeman that reports from medical experts that will be the foundation for a so-called insanity defense in his case must be completed by the end of May.

“I’m a little frustrated,” Murphy said to defense attorney Robert Viola, “because you told me in December you couldn’t get (the medical reports) until May and now it’s May and we still don’t have them.”

Viola told the judge he was equally frustrated, but reminded Murphy that he had warned that May would be the earliest time for him to receive the results of psychological testing on his client.

Freeman, 17, faces charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in the slaying of 5-year-old Isabella Tennant on Aug. 26.

In late December, Viola filed paperwork with the court that would allow him to present an insanity defense in the case. Murphy said Viola’s experts need to wrap up their work so that prosecutors can review it and then conduct their own testing on Freeman.

The judge told Viola all his medical reports must be filed by 4 p.m. May 31 and gave prosecutors until July 12 to complete their review and testing. He set arguments on whether to allow Viola to use an insanity defense for July 26.

Murphy also scheduled jury selection for a trial in the case to begin on Aug. 19.

The attorney for Freeman’s co-defendant, Tyler Best, told Murphy Thursday that he will “renew” a motion to have his client’s case separated from Freeman’s murder trial. Best, 18, is charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution in the case.

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