Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Lance Tiernan’s adult conviction and 54-day jail sentence for killing fellow One Way Farm resident Anthony Parker will stand.
Butler County Juvenile Judge Ronald Craft washed his hands of the case Monday, saying transferring the case to juvenile court wouldn’t serve public safety nor would it give him any control over Tiernan if he violated probation.
Tiernan, who was released from the Butler County Jail on Oct. 13 left the courthouse with his guardians – his former teacher from Mason High School and her husband, who also is a teacher.
Before Craft made his decision Parker’s grandmother Anita Smith noted that Tiernan had admitted during his trial in adult court that he meant to hurt Parker when he beat him and slammed him to the ground on his head on Dec. 19 at the Fairfield Township group home.
“Anybody his age could look at how much smaller (Anthony) was. Anthony was not a fighter. He would not get in anyone else’s face. He would not start a fight,” Smith said. “It was not the nature of who he was when he was alive.”
Jessica Krohn, Tiernan’s former teacher, spoke on Tiernan’s behalf, saying he understood what he did and was devastated and remorseful.
The couple took him in when he was released from jail because Tiernan had nowhere else to go. Warren County Children Services had placed him at One Way Farm because he had run away from home and no one in his family would take him in.
“The Lance I know is not the Lance I see in the media. The Lance I know is smart and funny and he’s kind,” Krohn said. “I know he’s overcome a lot. I know how much potential he has. I just want to see him have a chance in a stable home.”
Krohn said she was meeting with officials at Milford High School Monday afternoon to try to get Tiernan enrolled there.
Unlike in juvenile court, Tiernan’s adult criminal record will follow him for the rest of his life. He cannot get the conviction expunged because it is a felony offense of violence, said Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress.
Tiernan was convicted of involuntary manslaughter during a trial in adult court although prosecutors had initially charged him with a more serious charge of murder. The murder case began in juvenile court but was automatically bound over to adult court because of Tiernan’s age at the time. He was five months away from turning 18.
Judge Patricia Oney, of Butler County Common Pleas Court (adult court), sentenced Tiernan to the 10 months he had already served in jail awaiting trial and gave him an additional 54 days, which ended Oct. 13. She placed him on probation for five years, until he is 23, and ordered him to perform 500 hours of community service.
The involuntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. If Tiernan violates his probation, he could be sent to prison for three years.
Under Ohio’s Serious Youthful Offender Law, the case was sent back to juvenile court for Craft to consider whether he thought Tiernan could successfully be rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
Juvenile court would only be able to sentence him to six months of incarceration and would only have authority over Tiernan until he turned 21.
“It’s truly a sad case all the way around,” Craft said.