BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - It's been a week of mourning in Western New York. Early Monday morning, news broke that a five-year-old girl was missing from Niagara Falls.
Hours later, police announced that Bella Tennant, known as Isabella, had been murdered.
16-year-old John Freeman faces second degree murder charges.
Legal analyst Barry Covert says that may shed light on a motive, even though police remain tight-lipped.
Covert explains "In order for it to be murder in the second degree, there has to be some sort of intent -- that you knowingly and intentionally wanted to terminate some body's life or cause seriously injury resulting in their death."
He adds the only exception would be in a case of "depraved indifference," but says intent is more likely.
Police say Freeman confessed, but his attorney may try to suppress that statement.
"Often defendants say police claim just tell me you did it and we'll let you go home." Covert explains. He adds a defense attorney would argue "perhaps he confessed to something he didn't do, just so he could leave the police department."
Freeman's age of just 16-years-old and his maturity level could be a factor too.
Covert says a defense attorney could argue "he was coerced, they were wrongfully detained, that somebody was fooled into making these statements -- remember we've got a 16-year-old, I don't know what his maturity level was."
If Freeman's alleged confession is thrown out, that could change attorneys approach to the case.
He explains "they have to look at the physical evidence they have against him. If there is no evidence tying him to the crime -- there's no DNA, no cuts and scratches on his body -- then perhaps the other individual that said I helped cover it up could be the killer."
Freeman's friend, 18-year-old Tyler Best, was arraigned for tampering with evidence.
Covert says of the two, Best is more likely to see a plea deal, especially since he's the one police say lead them to Bella's body.
Even if Freeman's alleged confession is thrown out, prosecutors can still use Tyler's testimony.
Covert says "(Freeman) probably also made statements to the individual who helped him dispose of the body (Best), so you can double bang it and have multiple statements that he gave."
The next step is sending the case to a grand jury, something Covert says will probably happen in the upcoming month, if not weeks.
Covert adds it will probably be awhile before any plea deals are mentioned, because it's still very early in the investigation.
Freeman and Best will be back in court September 7th.
Bella's funeral will be Saturday at nine in the morning at St. Louis Church on Edward Street in Buffalo. It will be a Mass of Christian burial.
The service will be followed by a procession to St. Adalbert in Lancaster for the burial.