Tierney trial: Closing arguments Thursday morning

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A young woman who hung out with a group of Red Lion-area teens testified Wednesday that Stone Hill drove recklessly about a month before the crash.

Jayla Godfrey, the second witness called by Jodie Tierney's defense team, said she met Stone and others in the group in May 2015. She said she and others were in Stone's SUV on May 9 of that year to pick up another friend.

Cody Stern, a 2014 Red Lion Area Senior High School graduate, front, is comforted by Red Lion student Lindsay Wilhelm at a memorial built at the base of a utility pole on Slab Road in Lower Chanceford Township for their friends and classmates Stone Hill and Nicholas Mankin on the day after the two Red Lion students died in a fiery crash.
(Dawn Sagert photo)

"He was being very reckless and went into the other lane," she told jurors. "I did not feel safe."

Under questioning by defense attorney Doug Bare, Godfrey testified that she didn't say anything to Stone at the time but texted him later about her concerns. She also said she warned him he shouldn't drink and drive.

The defense called five witnesses for its case and rested Wednesday afternoon. Tierney did not testify.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

The crash: Godfrey is the friend who sent Stone a text at 7:06 p.m. June 16, 2015, which prosecutors say Stone didn't reply to. However, the defense is suggesting Stone might have been texting when the crash happened.

Stone, 17, and Nick Mankin, 16, were in Stone's SUV at the time, on the way to his home, when they crashed into a utility pole on Slab Road in Lower Chanceford Township between 7 and 7:10 p.m., according to testimony.

The two attended a teen drinking party at the Tierney home the night before; they slept over and started drinking again the next day, teens have testified. That testimony indicates Stone drank beer and four to five shots of rum on the 16th.

Stone and Nick were on their way to Stone's house from the Tierney home when the crash happened, state police have said. Stone's SUV burned beyond recognition, but a deputy coroner has testified the two were likely already dead of traumatic injuries.

Co-prosecutors Tim Barker and Sarah Buhite have told jurors that Tierney allowed teens to drink alcohol in her home without rules or repercussions and bought them alcohol on three occasions.

Stone Hill, left, and Nicholas Mankin.

Tierney, 46, of Percheron Drive in Windsor Township, remains free on bail, charged with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment, and one count each of corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Son takes stand: Also testifying Wednesday for the defense was her son, Steve Tierney II.

He told jurors Stone and Nick were his best friends, that they considered Jodie Tierney a second mother and that they called her "Mama Jodes."

"They knew she would provide for them ... whatever they needed," Steve Tierney said.

He testified that he and Stone lifted weights together.

"He often tried to take me under his wing as a workout buddy," Steve Tierney told jurors. "It's who he was."

'The crew': The young man said he and his group of friends, which he called "The Crew," started drinking together for the first time about January 2015.

Steve Tierney said while he and his friends drank at his parents' home about five times total, they also drank at other homes as well.

He conceded his mother bought beer for him and his friends to drink in the Tierney basement April 2, 2015. But he said that's the only time his mother bought them alcohol, and said he and his friends didn't have permission to drink at the Tierney home.

Jodie Tierney

Steve Tierney's testimony contradicted that of his friends regarding a teen drinking party at the Tierney vacation cabin in Adams County in 2015.

Cabin trip: He agreed with friends' testimony that Jodie Tierney bought a 12-pack of beer during the trip, but he maintains she bought it, at his suggestion, for workers doing improvements at the cabin.

Other teens who went to the cabin previously testified that Jodie Tierney bought the beer for them and knew they were drinking it.

Those teens also have testified Jodie Tierney bought them alcohol to drink on Mother's Day 2015 because they did yard work for her. Steve Tierney testified he wasn't home much of that day.

"I don't recollect any drinking on Mother's Day," he said.

He also said he's positive his parents weren't home during most of the teen drinking parties at his house.

Vague on details: On cross-examination, Steve Tierney had trouble remembering details of the parties at his home.

Shown a photo of one of his male friends drinking liquor out of the navels of two teenage girls, he said he didn't remember the incident and doesn't remember any instances in which teens did "body shots" at his house.

He couldn't remember an incident in which Dylan Gurreri body-slammed Nick Argento in the Tierney basement. Other teens have testified to those details; Argento wasn't hurt.

Vomit, urine: Steve Tierney said he couldn't remember a friend vomiting in his bed, couldn't remember finding someone's vomit in his shoe, and couldn't remember whether his bed was urinated in that night.

Barker asked if that was because he was too drunk to remember.

"I don't know. I couldn't tell you," Steve Tierney replied. "With all due respect, sir, you're asking me questions about things that happened ... two years ago."

Bare, the defense attorney, objected as Barker pushed the defendant's son about his failure to remember what other teens testified to and the discrepancies between his testimony and that of his friends.

But Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook overruled the objection, saying Barker was merely trying to determine at what point Steve Tierney's memory failed him.

Guilty plea: Jodie Tierney's husband, Stephen D. Tierney, 46, pleaded guilty last week to corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. He had been scheduled to stand trial with his wife.

Stephen Tierney

His charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment will be dropped at his Aug. 21 sentencing, according to the judge.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.