Tonawanda News

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September 6, 2013

Freeman's apology at sentencing no solace to slain 5-year-old girl

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — John Freeman stood at the defense table in Judge Matthew J. Murphy III’s courtroom Thursday afternoon, hung his head and cried.

Across from the admitted killer of little Isabella Tennant, stood her uncle, Jack Tennant. He was in court representing his brother, Isabella’s father, Michael, and read a withering statement from him.

“I’m truly sorry I couldn’t muster the strength to be in a room with the disgusting animal who strangled a 5-year-old girl,” Tennant said, reading from his brother’s words. “This disgusting animal killed my daughter. There is not one second I am not in pain. Freeman, do yourself a favor and hope you die before you see the light of day. I will be watching and waiting for you.”

Then, in a reference to Freeman, and his co-defendant Tyler Best, Tennant said, “I hope those two burn and rot in hell.”

Given an opportunity to reply, Freeman in a mumbled voice that was barely audible in the courtroom, expressed remorse. Turning slightly, to look at Isabella’s family members and friends, he said, “I’m so sorry for all their family. I’m just sorry. I can’t say anything else.”

If Freeman was at a loss for words, Second Assistant District Attorney Holly Sloma was not.

“This was a brutal killing,” she said. “He killed her with his bare hands.”

The veteran prosecutor said she’d never seen experienced and hardened police investigators so “stunned” by what had happened to the little girl, who was first reported missing and then was found, stuffed in a trash bag and buried in a garbage can.

Best of Buffalo helped dispose of the body but went to Falls police the morning after and confessed to police. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 27 after pleading guilty to evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.

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