Tierney apologizes for her role in fatal teen DUI crash, gets 3½ years in state prison
It was a different Jodie Tierney who appeared in court Monday afternoon to be resentenced for providing alcohol to her teenage son and his friends, including two Red Lion Area High School students who died in a fiery DUI crash.
At prior court proceedings, she has appeared unrepentant.
But an emotional Tierney seized on her opportunity to speak in court Monday, July 29, apologizing to the families of victims Stone Hill and Nick Mankin, as well as to the judge and to the York County community.
"I've caused such enormous harm to so many people," she said. "I'm deeply embarrassed for my actions. I've let my entire community down."
She said she allowed her son and his friends to drink at her former Windsor Township home because, at the time, she was more concerned about being a friend to her high school-aged son rather than being a parent to him.
She said she feared he wouldn't love her if she didn't treat him like a friend.
"I know what I did was wrong, and I take responsibility for all of it," Tierney said in court. "As parents, we must lead by example. Children should be able to look to their parents for guidance."
'Terrible harm': Instead, she said, her actions led to her being responsible for the death of two teens, both friends of her son.
"I'm sorry for this terrible harm I've caused ... for the deaths of these two boys," Tierney said, adding she hopes the fact that her case is now closed will bring some comfort to the grieving loved ones of Stone and Nick. Both teens' parents declined immediate comment Monday as they left the courtroom.
Presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook resentenced Tierney, 48, now of Pine Valley Drive in Chanceford Township, to 3½ to eight years in state prison, giving Tierney credit for the 241 days she has already spent incarcerated.
Cook previously sentenced Tierney to 2½ to six years in prison. But prosecutors appealed, arguing that Tierney's convictions for counts of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment shouldn't "merge" for sentencing purposes, meaning each charge should receive its own sentence.
The state Superior Court agreed that Cook should have handed down separate sentences on those counts and vacated Tierney's original sentence, which was what brought the defendant back to York County Court.
Cook also ordered Tierney to perform 175 hours of community service and attend DUI classes. Both of those punishments were part of Tierney's original sentence as well. Tierney said in court that she has already completed her community service.
Her attorney, Philadelphia-based Demetra Mehta, declined comment as she left the courtroom.
'Devastating consequences': First assistant district attorney Tim Barker said Tierney has taken a number of prison classes designed to help defendants understand how and why their actions were criminal.
He was approving of the fact "that she is now finally acknowledging and understanding her guilt."
"This has always been about accountability," Barker said, as well as the seriousness of the crime and "the devastating consequences of her actions on an entire community."
He told the judge that the case against Tierney divided the Red Lion-area community, causing irreparable damage.
Friendships have been fractured, he said, and many have survivor's guilt.
"This is about as wide an impact ... we've seen (a crime have) in almost 20 years," Barker said.
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 Tierneys' then-home on Percheron Drive in Windsor Township, where they had spent the day hanging out, swimming and drinking, according to trial testimony.
Tierney was convicted by a jury on July 20, 2017, of two counts each of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment and one count each of corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.
Barker has described the teen drinking parties as "ragers."
From December 2014 to June 2015, there was vomiting, passing out and one instance of bed-wetting, he said. One young man was body-slammed by a friend for trying to inappropriately touch girls, he said.
Barker has called Tierney's inaction "the epitome of indifference" toward the teens and scoffed at her early assertion that she had no idea that drinking was going on in her home.
Judge Cook has previously said Tierney and her husband 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," Cook has said.
Probation for husband: It's been two years since Jodie Tierney's husband, Stephen D. Tierney, 48, was sentenced to three years' probation.
He pleaded guilty July 10, 2017, on the eve of their 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 senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.