MIAMI COUNTY — The late William York, 88, saw the good in every person.
York — or as his grandchildren called him, “Pop” — even saw the potential in his own murderer, Richard Terrel, when he took him into his home and gave him a chance.
On or around May 26, 2015, Terrel, now 37, took a baseball bat and beat York, 88, to death in York’s garage in front of his granddaughter, Hope Earnshaw-York — Terrel’s girlfriend— and her three-year-old son.
Both Terrel and York were sentenced in Miami County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday. Terrel was sentenced to serve 15 years and Earnshaw-York to serve three years in prison for their role in York’s death.
Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell shared with the court how the pair cleaned the scene of the crime with bleach and ammonia, loaded York’s body up in a sleeping bag in the back of his own truck and later dumped his body in a creek in Union, Ky. Authorities found the body on June 3, 2015, after Terrel led them to its whereabouts after the pair were arrested.
Judge Christopher Gee sentenced Terrel to serve a total of 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse, and two counts of receiving stolen property for the theft and sale of York’s guns before his death. The felonious assault charged merged with the voluntary manslaughter charge, according to the plea agreement with the state. He received 545 days of jail credit. He entered a plea of guilty to the charges last month, admitting he killed York.
Judge Gee said Terrel has not shown any remorse for his “brutal and depraved” conduct, stating Terrel made “a poor attempt to deflect all responsibility for your conduct on drugs or your wife (Earnshaw-York).”
Prior to his sentencing, Terrel said, “I’d like to apologize for any actions I had in this matter … there’s nothing I can do to change anything.”
Jay Adams, court-appointed attorney for Terrel, said his client accepted responsibility for his actions and pleaded to the voluntary manslaughter charge so family wouldn’t have to relive the details of York’s murder.
Kendell said the investigation was hindered by the lack of forensic evidence due to Earnshaw-York and Terrel’s access to the crime scene, using bleach, paint, and ammonia to clean up the scene.
“This case best reflects the defendant’s coldness, callousness and total disregard for human life,” Kendell said. “This coldness and utter disregard for his actions was also demonstrated by the mistreatment of Mr. York’s body.”
Kendell didn’t go any further for the sake of the family who was present in the courtroom.
Kendell commented on York’s World War II service and his hard work ethic.
“Mr. York invited the defendant into his home. He provided a safe harbor and opportunities to get back on his feet. In turn, the defendant stole from Mr. York repeatedly. Then he took his life in the most cowardly and despicable ways,” Kendell said.
Grandchildren, York’s son Bill, a niece, Hope’s brother and sisters asked for Terrel to serve the maximum sentence and shared how the murder of York changed their lives, “devastating a small village of people” according to Sharon York, Hope’s mother.
“(Terrel) doesn’t deserve no deal, he deserves no second chance and if the law would allow, he deserves to never take another breath,” Bill York said. “This was a gutless act by a gutless individual and that you sentence Rick Terrel to the maximum and ignore any closed-door deal. My father deserves, and his family and his friends, expect nothing less than justice.”
Sharon York said William York “believed so much in Rick” that it split the family who did not want to support Terrel and Earnshaw-York’s relationship.
Sharon York told the court of children Terrel left behind in the wake of the murder of William York. She also spoke of the emotional trauma of the then-three-year-old boy who witnessed the pair’s actions throughout the incident and suffers from post-traumatic stress and developmental delays.
Earnshaw-York claims drugs, fear led to grandfather’s death
Hope Earnshaw-York’s sentencing hearing was held following Terrel’s hearing.
She was sentenced to serve a total of three years in prison for tampering with evidence, gross abuse of a corpse, possession of heroin and three counts of receiving stolen property due to the lack of evidence to support consecutive sentences. She received 547 days of jail credit. She will be released in approximately a year and a half due to time already served. She could serve up to three years of post-release control at the discretion of the parole board upon her release.
During her statement in open court, Earnshaw-York said she witnessed Terrel assault her grandfather in front of her young son while she was seven and a half months pregnant with Terrel’s child and feared for her life and her children’s lives.
“I was terrified, I was shocked, you know. Had I taken a chance to run for the phone, maybe things would have gone differently,” said Earnshaw-York, often rambling as she spoke. “I made wrong decisions.”
Earnshaw-York turned to her family members behind her and said, “It’s not lost on me, I’ve hurt the people I love the most … It’s not lost on me. I loved Pop and I was a coward … I should have helped him,” she said.
“I want to make it clear that this wasn’t some premeditated crime … it was a drug-fueled series of mistakes … there is no defense for them,” said Earnshaw-York. She said while her drug use wasn’t an excuse, she knows had she not used drugs, her grandfather would still be alive.
Judge Gee said the court disagreed with Earnshaw-York’s defensive statement, noting her use of heroin throughout her pregnancy and while caring for her two-year-old son.
“While you refer to yourself as a coward, not intervening to help your grandfather as your husband repeatedly struck him with a baseball bat until he appeared to be dead, you did attempt to justify your inaction to protect your children,” Gee said. “Your abuse of heroin with your child present and while you were pregnant is completely inconsistent with your post ad hoc maternal justification that you claim.”
Gee said Earnshaw-York’s conduct after York’s murder was “shocking and deplorable.”
Prosecutor Kendell said Earnshaw-York refused to cooperate throughout the investigation, including with her attorneys.
Kendell said Earnshaw-York and Terrel exchanged a stack of letters during their incarceration, in which Kendell claims she pledged her love to Terrel, even after the plea agreement the state and defense reached last month with Terrel.
“On no uncertain terms, Terrel’s case ended up with respect to the outcomes lay largely on (Earnshaw-York’s) shoulders and her shoulders alone because of the games that were played throughout,” Kendell said.
Kendell said Earnshaw-York repeatedly told the prosecutors, “It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not going to bring Pop back,” and refused to cooperate to help bring her grandfather’s murder to justice.
Sharon York spoke again at Hope’s hearing.
“It’s hard to be on both sides of this because no one is angrier at Hope than I am and no one loves Hope more than I do,” she said. York said her daughter was a loving mother, caring aunt and daughter before she “descended into madness” with Terrel. York said she hoped her daughter would make good use of her time in prison and told Judge Gee she would be released to a loving family.
Follow Melanie Yingst @Troydailynews