Superior Court denies Red Lion’s appeal of conviction for role in 2015 death of two high school students
YORK COUNTY — A Red Lion woman convicted in connection to the deaths of two high school students who died in an accident after drinking has been denied the chance at a new trial in a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling issued Wednesday.
Jodie Tierney argued there wasn’t enough evidence for a jury to find her guilty of involuntary manslaughter, that prosecutors should not have been permitted to show pictures of the teens’ bodies, and that the court erred in denying her a new trial.
President Judge Emeritus Correale F. Stevens rejected those arguments in a 48-page opinion. He also sided with prosecutors, who argued that the judge in the original trial should have had to sentence her for both involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children. As a result, Tierney will be resentenced.
A woman found guilty in the deaths of two Red Lion Area Senior High School students who crashed after drinking at her home does not have a case to overturn her convictions, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled.
Tierney, 47, was convicted of two counts of involuntary manslaughter and other offenses in July 2017 for her role in the crash that killed Red Lion students Stone Hill, 17, and Nick Mankin, 16, on June 16, 2015. Hill and Mankin were members of the Red Lion football team and were about to begin their senior years at the high school.
She was sentenced to 2 1/2 to six years in prison, a year of probation and 175 hours of community service in August 2017. In addition, Tierney was required to complete DUI education classes and pay a $750 fine.
Tierney’s husband, Stephen, 48, pleaded guilty to corruption of minors and selling or furnishing alcohol to minors just before his trial began. He received a sentence of three years probation.
Social media helped investigators in their case against the Tierneys. On the date of the fatal crash, Stone Hill posted video of him holding a bottle of Bacardi rum and drinking a clear liquid from a shot glass. A photograph from Mankin’s Snapchat account on the day of the crash depicted the teenager and other minors socializing in a kitchen/living room of a home.
Interviews with other teens in the photo confirmed that it was taken at the home of Stephen and Jodie Tierney.
The investigators also uncovered repeated instances where Jodie Tierney purchased alcohol for minors. Other evidence included Stephen Tierney posing with minors including his own teen-aged son with alcohol present. Police uncovered overwhelming evidence that the Tierney’s permitted minors to consume alcohol in their home.
It was that evidence, Stevens wrote, that established Jodie Tierney was aware that teens regularly consumed alcohol at her home and took few — if any — steps to stop them from driving.
Stevens also dismissed Jodie Tierney’s contention that allowing the jury to see photos of the teens’ burned bodies was “unduly prejudicial,” noting that Tierney had questioned who was driving the 2002 Toyota 4Runner at the time of the accident. That’s why the photos were relevant to the trial, Stevens determined.
Stevens also did not buy Tierney’s argument that she deserved a new trial, noting that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying her a new trial.
There is no word on when Tierney will be re-sentenced.