Community In Shock By Bella's Murder

August 28, 2012 Updated Aug 28, 2012 at 6:52 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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August 28, 2012 Updated Aug 28, 2012 at 6:52 PM EDT


Niagara Falls, NY (WKBW) - Reactions are coming from outside the courtroom and within the neighborhood where Bella's murder took place.

Loved ones and strangers are horrified, angry and heartbroken. For many, the thought of a little girl losing her life at the hands of a trusted teenager is just plain mind-numbing.

Family and friends of Bella and the suspects left the courtroom Tuesday morning in complete disbelief.

Brandy Reid, the best friend of Tyler Best's mother, tells Eyewitness News "he made a really bad choice, I'm not condoning it at all. But there are a lot of people who care for him."

Reid adds this is completely out of character, and that "he's really not a bad kid. He's caring."

Neighbors and friends describe 18-year-old Tyler Best and quiet, but funny. Police say Best helped get rid of Bella's body.

16-year-old John Freeman, the accused killer, was as a cadet -- a program for kids training for the military.

Freeman's old Commanding Officer called him a natural born leader.

Christopher Didonna said "He was a great squad leader -- very trustworthy. Very knowledgeable of military protocol and flag etiquette."

Didonna thought Freeman had a brought future and thought "he'd leave the cadets, join the military and become quite successful."

Perhaps few are more shocked than neighbors of Sharon Lascelle -- Bella's great-grandmother.

Loved ones are putting stuffed animals behind Sharon's house in Bella's memory. A stuffed dog and teddy bear lay at the gate.

Paul Hoyt, who lives in between Sharon and the suspects has known Freeman for years. Hoys says "He's always been a good kid, helping people, helping Sharon, cut her lawn and just friendly."

Hoyt says Sharon and John were exceptionally close and that "He spent more time than he did at his own house. They were his second family." Hoyt even used to see John play in the backyard with little Bella.

Neighbors say Tyler had been living with John's family for the last year and that he would also visit Sharon to use her computer and help out around the house.

Just blocks away, a memorial grows by the alley where Bella's body was found.

Even strangers and friends of the suspects are coming to pay their respects to the little girl.

Danielle Ravarini says Tyler "wouldn't hurt a fly" and "he was always that person that makes people laugh."

It's an entire community in mourning, trying to wrap their minds around this senseless crime.

Eyewitness News reached out to Robert Viola, the defense attorney, for a comment. However, he did not return our calls or e-mails by deadline.