Sculley receives suspended sentence after pleading guilty to aiding, inducing or causing the dealing of a narcotic drug


A three-year sentence was handed down Tuesday in Bartholomew Superior Court 1 for a Jackson County woman who drove a vehicle on a trip that led to the death of a Columbus resident.

But Tiffany Marie Sculley, 35, of Brownstown will not be going to prison. Judge James Worton ordered that Sculley’s sentence be suspended to probation, with the first year served in a Community Corrections program.

Sculley pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to aiding, inducing or causing the dealing of a narcotic drug as a Level 5 felony. The felony charge was in connection with the July 8, 2022 death of Ronald Lee Smith, 37, of Columbus.

Bartholomew County Prosecutor Lindsey Holden-Kay said the sole aggravating circumstance was that Sculley was involved in a crime that resulted in death. The prosecutor told the judge the state only wanted to ensure that Sculley has access to addiction therapy if needed.

Sculley was accused of driving Smith and co-defendant Ryan Self to the Louisville area. Investigators concluded it was Self who purchased methamphetamine, heroin/fentanyl and Suboxone during that trip, and supplied the victim with the narcotic that would eventually take his life.

Smith’s body was found within a tent in a homeless camp along a walking path near Tellman Camp Road. An autopsy indicated the victim accidentally died of acute fentanyl intoxication.

Worton acknowledged that Sculley had no criminal history, agreed to plead guilty as charged, accepts responsibility for her role in Smith’s death, and seems genuinely remorseful.

The judge also said the defendant, who has a history of addiction, has avoided drug use for several months. Worton also noted Sculley is considered to be at a low risk to commit a similar crime, and has endured experiences beyond her control that resulted in mental health issues.

“This is a case where mitigators could, by numbers, outweigh aggravators,” Worton said. “But I think considering the gravity of the one aggravator, it balances them. I think any sentence less than the advisory in this case would depreciate the seriousness of this offense.”

Besides the suspended three-year sentence, Worton ordered that Sculley obtain a substance abuse evaluation, a mental health evaluation, have no contact with Self, and pay a variety of fees.

Worton said he was considering prior to Tuesday’s hearing the question of whether or not to give Sculley prison time.

“Somebody died that shouldn’t have as a result of what happened,” Worton said. “It was a serious offense. But I would agree with the state that additional jail time in this case may do more harm than good.”

Worton said he will use the three-year suspended sentence to hold over Sculley’s head to give her the incentive not to return to substance abuse and to think about the consequences of her actions.

“This doesn’t mean you are an evil person, but you had a very poor lapse of judgment,” Worton told the defendant. “And I certainly hope that if there is a next time that somebody asks for a ride to do something illegal, you’ll think twice about that.“

Self is facing a formal charge of dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death as a Level 1 felony.

Currently being held without bond in Jackson County on an unrelated offense, Self is scheduled to appear before Worton at 10:30 a.m. on April 22 for a change of plea hearing.

A pre-trial conference is set for 11 a.m. on May 6, while the trial is tentatively scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on May 21.