Sentence leaves Crowley family grieving, unsatisfied
The courtroom was filled with tears and murmurs Wednesday afternoon as Tiffanny Ashcraft and members of the Crowley family appeared in court for the first time since Joshua Crowley’s death to finalize the plea agreement. Ashcraft pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
Members of the family felt that her sentence, which included a suspended sentence and two years of probation, was “less than a slap on the wrist” and felt a lack of justice.
“Something’s wrong in this county, in this system,” Michelle Morgan, a friend of Crowley, said after the sentencing.
Tammy Crowley, Joshua Crowley’s mother, said she was in “disbelief” over Union County’s ways. She said she was not given a reason that the case took more than a year.
Tammy addressed the court during the proceeding.
“I just don’t see any justice here today,” she told Judge Steve Higdon during her statement.
For Doris Hartis, Crowley’s paternal grandmother who gained custody of him after the death of his father, the past year has been difficult.
“Our hearts broke into a million pieces,” Hartis said during her court appearance. “I am thankful for the 22 years that God blessed us...with him.”
She addressed Ashcraft, telling her that she knows she was young and probably scared, “I wish you would have called 911,” she said.
Outside of the courtroom, Hartis said she did not think Ashcraft got what she should have gotten.
“It’s still very heart-breaking and upsetting,” she said. “We’ll just try to pick up the pieces.”
Hartis said she was glad she got to speak in court and that she got to see Ashcraft in person.
Daniel Crowley, Joshua Crowley’s first cousin, said in court that Crowley was like a brother to him.
“Josh and me grew up together, we called each other brothers, but he was greater than any brother I could have,” Daniel said in the courtroom. “We both lost our fathers at a young age and had a bond that was greater than friendship.”
Daniel said in the courtroom that he could not offer any sympathy for Ashcraft.
“There is no excuse for what happened to him, for Josh lying all night in a ditch alone,” he said. “There is no excuse for not going back that night and for not reporting what happened.”
Outside of the courthouse, Daniel said the sentence was “less than a slap on the wrist.”
He said that with Crowley gone, he is going to be there for his family.
“I am more than happy to help,” he said. “It’s a lot lonelier without him.”
Daniel misses his big smile. He said he was always upbeat and always happy to help. He recalled a time when his sandal broke and Crowley took off his shoes to give them to him.
Daniel said he was glad he had the opportunity to address the court and that he wished everyone had the opportunity to speak.
For Colton Hollis, losing Joshua Crowley was more like losing a brother than a friend.
“He taught me everything,” Hollis said. “He was our everything. He was our life.”
Like others, he was unsatisfied with the sentence.
“(It is) the biggest slap on the wrist that I have ever seen,” he said. “I hope that (Ashcraft) will see the harm she caused our family.”
Hollis said that nothing the court can do will bring Crowley back, but he hopes Ashcraft understands what she did.
Joshua Carter, Crowley’s fiance, also expressed his disappointment.
“I am very disappointed in the outcome of what happened,” Carter said. “Nothing we do is going to bring him back to us.”
However, Carter felt the sentence should have been harsher.
“I don’t think she got what she deserved,” he said.
Like other family members and friends, Carter now has to cope with everything and move forward.
“It is what it is and we all just have to keep going,” he said. “Life moves on.”
Carter, like others, will remember Crowley fondly and celebrate time spent with him.
“I know what Josh meant to me and I’m going to cherish those memories for the rest of my life,” he said. “I cherish the memories that I have.”
He said he is thankful for the time he got to spend with Crowley.
Lisa Watson, Carter’s mother and a friend of Joshua Crowley, was still processing and absorbing what happened in the courtroom.
“I’m not surprised,” she said. “I’m disappointed that she didn’t get more than was handed down.”
Ashcraft and family did not leave the courthouse through the public entrance and did not address the media.
She was sentenced to a total of 105 days suspended sentence, two years of probation, her driver’s license was revoked for a year, she must serve 75 hours and community service and pay restitution to Crowley’s family for the funeral expenses.
In addition, Ashcraft must give five presentations on the dangers of texting while driving, write a five-page, single-spaced paper about driving safety and wear an alcohol monitor for six months.