LYONS — For about a week after Josh Niles and Amber Washburn were gunned down outside their Sodus home last October, Charlene Childers spent time with their families and appeared to be grieving with them.
“You came up here acting like you had nothing to do with it,” Barbara Niles, Josh’s mother, told Childers Thursday in Wayne County Court. “You went to the vigil. You went to the funeral. You sat in our home.”
Barbara Niles was one of several people who spoke before Childers was sentenced to 28 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of Niles, her former boyfriend, and an unrelated weapons charge. Childers and Niles had two children together, and Childers admitted she had her husband, Timothy Dean, kill Niles over a child custody dispute.
Dean, a former police officer from Texas, recently was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Niles and second-degree murder for killing Washburn, who was pulling into the driveway of the home she shared with Niles as he was being shot. Dean is expected to be sentenced July 25 to life in prison without parole.
With her husband Gene at her side, Barbara Niles said she considered Childers “a member of our family for a long time.” The child custody dispute was reportedly over Dean’s alleged abuse of the children Niles and Childers had together while the children were in Texas with Dean and Childers.
Niles and Washburn had one child together — a 4-year-old who was in the car when Washburn was killed.
“My son was protecting his kids ... from your monster of a husband,” Barbara Niles told Childers. “Now these poor kids have no parents at all. They have to grow up knowing their mother had something to do with their father’s death. You ruined a lot of lives, including your own.”
Josh’s sister, Nicole Gunkel, said Childers spent a week at her home after the murders.
“No mother who loves their kids does that to their father,” Gunkel said. “Josh and Amber didn’t deserve this. I wish New York state had a death penalty. You and your husband deserve it.”
Amber Washburn’s uncle, Jeff Washburn, read a statement from Washburn’s parents — Chris and Marsha Washburn — at the sentencing. Chris Washburn glared at Childers throughout the statement.
“Amber was a kind and caring person, unlike you,” Jeff Washburn said.
A third defendant in the case, Bron Bohlar, has been sentenced to one to three years in prison for conspiring with Dean and Childers. Bohlar, also a former police officer in Texas, admitted he helped Dean rent a vehicle to drive from Texas to New York.
Dean got into an accident with that vehicle in Kansas and had to rent another vehicle, this time in his name, to go to New York.
Bohlar and Childers testified against Dean at his trial. Childers said the plan to kill Niles did not include Washburn’s death.
Childers’ attorney, Rome Canzano, said his client took a plea deal to avoid spending the rest of her life in prison.
“We are here because of some very, very poor decisions,” Canzano said. “For my client, this is an opportunity to reflect on the poor decisions she made and the impact on the victims’ families and her own family.”
In a brief statement, the 26-year-old Childers apologized and said she will accept her long prison sentence. She will likely be in her early 50s when she is freed.
“2018 was supposed to be the best year of my life, and it ended up being the worst year of my life. What I did was wrong and I regret it every single day,” she said. “I realize saying I’m sorry are just words. Saying sorry doesn’t bring them back. My selfishness ruined my children’s lives.”
County Judge Daniel Barrett said he has handled a number of murder cases over the years, but this was the most “senseless and tragic” he has ever seen. He called Childers a manipulator for convincing Dean to kill Niles.
“You knew he would say yes. You could have told him to stop at any time. He was your puppet,” the judge said. “These children are going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives. There is nothing you can do to make up for what you did.”