Tierney being released pending appeal on DUI manslaughter case
Red Lion football remembers two teammates killed in crash (2015)
A Red Lion-area woman currently in state prison for providing alcohol to teens — including two who died in a fiery DUI crash — has been granted bail while she appeals her York County conviction.
Jodie Tierney, 47, of the first block of Percheron Drive in Windsor Township, has been serving her sentence of 2½ to six years of incarceration after being found guilty of two counts each of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment and one count each of corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.
Her Philadelphia-based attorney is appealing the conviction to the state Superior Court and asked presiding York County Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook to allow Tierney to be released on bail pending that appeal.
In court on Monday, Feb. 26, Cook said her first reaction to the defense attorney's statement of appeal issues was, "did you read the same (trial) transcripts I read?"
The judge said she's "fairly certain" Tierney's conviction will be upheld on appeal.
However, Cook noted, it will take the Superior Court at least a year to rule on Tierney's appeal, meaning Tierney would have served almost her entire sentence by the time the appeals court decides whether to overturn the conviction.
Cook granted Tierney bail pending appeal and set that bail at $50,000.
Tierney's husband and former co-defendant, Stephen D. Tierney, began to cry in the courtroom after hearing his wife is now eligible for release.
'No right to cry': The families of fatal-crash victims Stone Hill and Nick Mankin appeared shocked by Cook's ruling.
"This is total bulls—t," Glenn Hill, Stone's father, told reporters as the angry family members filed out of Cook's courtroom.
"He has no right to cry about anything," Hill said of Stephen Tierney. "He gets to go home to his kids."
"And we go home without our kids," added Carol Tracey, Nick's mother.
Senior deputy prosecutor Sarah Buhite declined comment as she and deputy prosecutor Steph Lombardo left the courtroom.
"We're happy that the judge granted bail and we're optimistic about our chances on the appeal," defense attorney Demetra Mehta said.
Jodie Tierney's bail was posted Monday and she was scheduled to be released from York County Prison about 6:30 p.m., according to prison records.
The background: Stone, 17, and Nick, 16, 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 had spent the day hanging out, swimming and drinking, according to prosecution testimony.
Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker has described the teen drinking parties at the Tierney home as "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.
Never alerted parents: One of the young men became so drunk on rum he was unresponsive and 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 that drinking was going on in her home.
Cook has previously said in court she doesn't believe the statements Jodie Tierney made about the circumstances leading up to the fatal crash.
Cook also said the Tierneys took "minimal accountability" for their actions despite their "overwhelming guilt."
"The parenting displayed (by the Tierneys) in this case rivals some of the worst I've ever seen," the judge has said.
Appeal issues: Mehta's appeal issues for the state Superior Court, laid out in a Feb. 20 filing to inform Cook, include the argument that the evidence against Jodie Tierney was insufficient to convict. Mehta also is arguing that during trial, the prosecution:
- Failed to establish Jodie Tierney had a duty to care for Stone and Nick.
- Failed to establish Stone was driving the SUV that crashed.
- Didn't prove Stone was given any alcohol by Jodie Tierney on the day of the fatal crash.
- Failed to prove that the morals of minors weren't already corrupt "because the evidence at trial overwhelmingly showed (Stone and Nick) regularly drank alcohol long before meeting Mrs. Tierney."
Mehta also is arguing that Jodie Tierney's charge of furnishing alcohol to minors should have been separated from the other charges for trial "because the prejudicial value of joinder and risk of confusion was too great."
Mehta claims the jury should not have been allowed to see photos from the crash scene because the "unfair prejudice ... was overwhelming, and the photographs had no probative value."
'Excessive' sentence: The attorney also said Cook sentenced Jodie Tierney "to a clearly unreasonable and manifestly excessive sentence."
During Monday's bail hearing, the prosecution argued that Jodie Tierney violated conditions of her supervised bail while she remained free awaiting trial.
"There were multiple admonitions from the bench to knock it off," Buhite reminded Judge Cook.
Cook said she believed those violations came "more from a sense of entitlement ... than anything else."
The judge said if the Superior Court denies the appeal, Jodie Tierney must report to prison immediately, or she will issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest.
Probation for husband: Stephen Tierney, 47, is serving three years' probation on his case.
He pleaded guilty July 10, on the eve of trial, 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 his older son's teen friends to drink at his home on one occasion.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.