Prison for woman who gave alcohol to teens killed in DUI crash
Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook excoriated the actions of both Jodie and Stephen Tierney moments before sending one of them to state prison for more than two years.
Cook on Tuesday, Aug. 29, sentenced Jodie L. Tierney of Windsor Township to 2½ to six years in state prison for providing alcohol to teens, including two who died in a fiery DUI crash.
She said the Tierneys took "minimal accountability" for their actions despite their "overwhelming guilt," and added that she's spent 33 years in family law — as a judge, an attorney and a child advocate.
"The parenting displayed (by the Tierneys) in this case rivals some of the worst I've ever seen," Cook said.
She said she doesn't believe the statements Jodie Tierney has made about the circumstances leading up to the deaths of Stone Hill, 17, and his 16-year-old friend and passenger, Nicholas Mankin.
In addition to state prison, Jodie Tierney, 46, must serve a year of probation after being released, take DUI classes, pay a $750 fine and perform 175 hours of community service, the judge ordered.
Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker asked the judge to imprison Jodie Tierney for 4½ to nine years, and defense attorney Doug Bare asked for probation or house arrest — or, barring that, a county prison sentence that would allow her 13- and 18-year-old sons to visit her more regularly.
Probation for husband: Her husband, 46-year-old Stephen D. Tierney, was sentenced to three years of probation and 175 hours of community service and ordered to attend DUI classes and pay a $750 fine and court costs.
He pleaded guilty last month to corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. Stephen Tierney's guilty plea was not for the deaths of Stone and Nick. It was for allowing the group of teens to drink at his home on one occasion.
Cook said in court she was surprised prosecutors even offered him a plea agreement.
Stephen Tierney declined comment to The York Dispatch after his sentencing. His defense attorney, Tom Kelley, noted in court that his client couldn't be blamed for the actions of his wife and that his sentencing couldn't be in response to her crimes.
"I hope and pray for peace and forgiveness," Stephen Tierney said in court. "There isn't a day that goes by that we don't talk about what happened."
Pain, anguish, divisions: The loved ones of Stone and Nick also spoke in court, laying bare their pain and grief, and also their anger.
In a letter read aloud in court, Nick's sister, Lauren Cherry, said the teens' deaths left "a great heartache on our community," and she acknowledged the ensuing division between those who blame the Tierneys and those who support them — including members of Nick's own family, which has been ripped apart.
Carol Tracey, Nick's mother, spoke at length through tears. She said she's not equipped to deal with her son's death, adding she couldn't believe it when people told her she should be grateful she still has other children.
"We have endured this pain and excruciating loss," Tracey said. "I feel so robbed of my time with my precious son."
She described Nick as having a love for life, especially for fishing and shooting with his family. He had hoped to join the U.S. Coast Guard, she said.
"He was always a happy child ... a child full of life," she said.
'Lie after lie': Tracey told the court that Jodie Tierney and her "entourage" told "lie after lie" about Stone and Nick, starting minutes after the accident when she called Tracey to tell her.
"It was sheer panic for her," Tracey told the judge. "The panic was for herself and not for my son or for me. She knew my son's death was her fault. ... She was neglectful and reckless with my young son's life."
Tracey, the prosecution and Stone's parents all spoke in court about how they believe the Tierneys provided alcohol to Red Lion Area High School students because they either wanted to be the "cool parents" or wanted to help their older son be more popular.
Glenn Hill told Judge Cook that his heart "aches constantly."
"Stone is not only my son, he was my friend and my workout partner," Hill said. "He was everything in the world you could ask for as a son."
Watching Stone become a man "was just amazing to me," Hill said, adding the Tierneys showed "complete disregard" for Stone's well-being.
Afraid to forget: Tina Hill also spoke, recalling the moment she rushed to the fatal crash site
"That's when my whole world just stopped," she said. "My strong, loving, handsome boy was gone."
She said part of her despair causes her to see the crash scene over and over in her mind, and it won't go away.
At the same time, she's afraid she'll forget details about her only child.
"I have this deep fear I'm going to forget," Tina Hill said. "I'm scared to death I'll forget his voice ... his smile."
She spoke about Stone's compassion for people, including unpopular kids, and the hard work he put in to be considered for college football scholarships. Tina Hill said she'll never know what her son's future held.
"It's just a dream that never came to be," she said.
No early retirement: Jodie Tierney also addressed Judge Cook, asking for leniency.
She said she thinks about "what I could have done differently" to change what happened, adding she failed her family, friends and others.
But she said she's learned her lesson and told the judge, "You'll never have to see me again. ... I've paid dearly every day since."
Jodie Tierney said she's "excelled at my career," but that her criminal charges led to her insurance license being suspended for at least two years. She said her family savings has been "decimated."
"Any hope for an early retirement is no longer possible," she said.
More than 20 people filed letters of support to the court on Jodie Tierney's behalf, according to attorney Bare, who said it speaks volumes "about her character."
Could've been Tierney sons: While handing down the sentences, Cook said the Tierneys should get down on their hands and knees and give thanks daily that it wasn't one of their own sons who died, "because neither of them did anything to prevent that from happening."
"Was it vanity? Or wanting to be a popular parent?" the judge wondered. "I'm at a loss to understand."
Cook said the sentence she fashioned for Jodie Tierney took into account "the number of minors who were exposed to danger" by the defendant's actions.
After sentencing, Cook ordered sheriff's deputies to immediately take Jodie Tierney into custody to begin serving her sentence.
The background: Stone and Nick were killed shortly after 7 p.m. June 16, 2015, when Stone lost control of his SUV, which flipped, slammed into a utility pole and burst into flames on Slab Road in Lower Chanceford Township, just minutes from Stone's home.
They were on their way to Stone's house from the Tierney home, where they spent the day hanging out, swimming and drinking, according to prosecution testimony.
Bare, the defense attorney, told The York Dispatch on Tuesday that he's heard some of the teens who partied at the Tierney home are still drinking underage. He said he hopes those teens realize the dangers and stop.
Barker has said the teen drinking parties at the Tierney home were "ragers."
From December 2014 to June 2015, there was vomiting, passing out and one occasion of bed-wetting, he said. One young man was body-slammed by a friend for trying to inappropriately touch girls, he said.
One of the young men became so drunk on rum he was unresponsive and literally had to be carried to his father's car, according to testimony, but still the Tierneys didn't alert any parents.
Barker has called Jodie Tierney's inaction "the epitome of indifference" toward the teens and scoffed at her assertion that she had no idea all that drinking was going on in her home.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.