Sheila McLaughlin reports:
The man who considered himself Anthony Parker’s father burst from a Butler County courtroom Monday screaming “Oh my God. He murdered my son” after a judge gave the boy’s killer 54 days in jail, probation and community service.
“I will never forgive Mr. Tiernan. I will hate him for the rest of my life,” Frank Smith said before Judge Patricia Oney sentenced Lance Tiernan on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Smith, who never returned to the courtroom, has two teenage daughters with Parker’s mother from a previous relationship.
Jurors found Tiernan not guilty of murder in July, but they did convicted him of involuntary manslaughter in the Dec. 19 beating death of Parker, 16, at One Way Farm in Fairfield Township.
Tiernan was charged as an adult with murder but since the jury tossed that charge, the case will revert to the juvenile system for a second sentencing hearing on involuntary manslaughter.
By law, Tiernan’s case was automatically bound over to adult court because of his age – 17 at the time of the offense – and the seriousness of the charge. The case automatically is sent back to juvenile court for a sentencing hearing because Tiernan was not convicted of the murder charge.
Defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers said a Butler County juvenile judge will review the adult court’s sentence and is supposed to mirror it.
Tiernan could be held in a juvenile prison until he’s 21, but that’s unlikely, Rittgers said. As an adult he faced up to three years in prison. He has been in jail for 246 days awaiting trial.
Being sentenced as a juvenile means the conviction won’t follow him as an adult when he applies for jobs or college, Rittgers said.
The hearing in juvenile court has not been set.
Beside the 54-day jail sentence, Oney ordered Tiernan to spend one year on intensive probation and to be monitored for drug and alcohol use for four years. He will have to perform 500 hours of community service and either get his GED or finish high school. Tiernan was a student at Mason High School before being arrested.
Tiernan told Oney Monday that he was sorry for what he did to Parker.
“Every day I ask God for forgiveness. I never wanted Andy to die. I never should have done what I did. It was stupid,” said Tiernan, who was placed at One Way Farm by children services because he had run away and none of his relatives would take him in.
Tiernan was 17 when he beat Parker in a violent attack at One Way Farm. Parker suffered a skull fracture and was later found unresponsive in his bedroom. He died nine days later when his adoptive grandmother, Anita Smith, removed him from life support.
Parker’s mother, Kathy Sulton, accepted the judge’s sentence.
“I guess he got what he wanted. I wanted more but … he got what the judge felt was right and I’m hoping he gets his life together and he meant what he said that he was remorseful. Only time will tell,” Sulton said.
She said she forgives Tiernan.
“The day that this happened in my heart I knew that he didn’t intentionally set out to kill Anthony. It’s just the grieving is very hard. Anthony was my first born and it’s just been a hard road,” she said.
Sulton said her 8-year-old son is in grief counseling and is having the toughest time dealing with his brother’s death. The boy has talked of wanting to kill himself so they could be together, Sulton said.