NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - In a surprising move, 17-year-old John Freeman pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to murdering 5-year-old Isabella Tennant in Niagara Falls nearly one year ago.
Freeman pleaded guilty to second degree murder and evidence tampering charges. He was in court Wednesday to discuss the possibility of using an insanity defense, based on Freeman's supposed mental defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome. But instead, Freeman pleaded guilty, to the surprise of many.
Niagara Falls Police Det. Lt. Michael Trane said, "He admitted putting her in a choke hold that eventually caused her death. She was awake. I guess he wanted her to go to sleep and she wouldn't."
Authorities say Freeman killed Isabella and then hid her body in a garbage can under garbage bags. Freeman's friend, Tyler Best, allegedly helped move Isabella's body. Best is being charged with evidence tampering. Det. Lt. Trane says Best came to police headquarters within hours and led police to Isabella's body.
News 4 reached Isabella's mother, Crystal Walker, by telephone in Florida. She said, "I'm just glad it wasn't dragged out any longer; it's been painful enough."
Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced September 5. He could face anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.
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