Man pleads, wife on trial for crash that killed Red Lion football players
Trial began Monday in York County Court for one of two Windsor Township residents accused of providing alcohol for Red Lion high school students — two of whom died in a DUI crash.
The trial for Jodie L. Tierney started Monday afternoon with opening statements and is expected to continue into next week.
Her husband, Stephen D. Tierney, pleaded guilty Monday morning to corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said it is an open plea, meaning it will be up to presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook to determine the appropriate punishment.
Stephen Tierney told the judge he never bought alcohol for the group of Red Lion Area High School students who hung out with his sons at his home and, according to state police, drank there a number of times without consequences.
'I did not stop it': He admitted to going into his basement April 2, 2015, and seeing about six students drinking there.
"I did not stop it in my own house," he said. "That's the only time I was aware of. The other times, I had no idea."
Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker told Cook the prosecution hadn't alleged Stephen Tierney was the one who bought alcohol for the juveniles — but said he was aware drinking was going on because he and his wife discussed it.
"He did not plead guilty to the totality of the factual circumstances," Barker told the court.
Cook set sentencing for Aug. 21 and ordered a pre-sentence report be completed with a sentencing recommendation.
Manslaughter charges: Cook also said Stephen Tierney's other charges will be dropped at sentencing. They are two counts each of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment for the alcohol-fueled crash deaths of 17-year-old Stone Hill and 16-year-old Nicholas Mankin.
Defense attorney Tom Kelley said Stephen Tierney feels horrible about the double-fatal crash and "is very troubled by everything that's occurred."
Factoring into his guilty plea was the fact that Stephen Tierney feared if he and his wife were found guilty and sentenced to prison, there would be no one to care for their minor son.
Kelley said he's hopeful his client will avoid a prison sentence but noted that is Judge Cook's decision.
Stephen Tierney will not testify for the prosecution, according to Kelley.
Defense attorney Doug Bare said Stephen Tierney's plea will have no effect on Jodie Tierney's case.
State police have alleged Stephen and Jodie Tierney, both 46, of 80 Percheron Drive in Windsor Township, repeatedly allowed their older son and his friends, including Stone and Nick, to drink at their home and summer cabin. Police also allege Jodie Tierney bought alcohol for the teens on three separate occasions.
Opening statements: On Monday afternoon, Barker told jurors the teens, including the Tierney's older son, learned they could drink at the Tierney home because there were "no rules, no repercussions" for it.
"Jodie Tierney enabled, encouraged (and) harbored underage drinking at her house," he told jurors. "She purchased (it) for them. She covered for them. She lied to parents for them."
And after Stone and Nick were killed, she told some parents that there was no drinking that she knew of at her home.
But Bare told jurors his client is innocent.
"Accidents do happen. And car accidents happen all the time, for many reasons," Bare said.
He told jurors the Tierneys were at work the day of the crash and didn't know Stone and Nick were at their house drinking that day.
"They weren't supposed to be there, and they weren't supposed to take liquor from the liquor cabinet," Bare said of the teens.
He said Jodie Tierney didn't know about the underage drinking, "except one time" in which she bought alcohol for the "party crowd." Bare described it as "the mistake of her life."
He also argued that witnesses will say Stone did not appear to be visibly intoxicated.
Bare told jurors that results of the teen's blood-alcohol test are contaminated and untrustworthy.
The background: Just a couple of hours before Stone crashed his SUV into a telephone pole, killing himself and fellow Red Lion football player Nick, Stephen Tierney told his wife, "This has got to stop," according to testimony from the couple's preliminary hearing more than a year ago.
The football players were killed when Stone's Toyota 4Runner crashed into a pole, flipped and burst into flames in the 200 block of Slab Road in Lower Chanceford Township just after 7 p.m. June 16, 2015.
Stone was driving between 64 mph and 73 mph when he lost control going into a curve, according to state police Trooper Jonathan Colarusso, who filed charges in the case.
Colarusso attributed the crash to excessive steering for the speed Stone was traveling, exacerbated by alcohol impairment.
Nick and Stone would have been seniors in the fall of 2015, playing for Red Lion's varsity football team.