Chesterfield Man Sentenced For DWI Death | News
CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) – A drunken driver, who killed a teacher from Chesterfield, and almost killed her son in a collision last August, will be going to jail for only one year, and maybe less.
St. Louis County Circuit Judge Thomas Prebil sentenced Patrick J. McCormick, 54, to one year in the county jail for second degree assault and five years probation on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. McCormick pleaded guilty to both charges in June, but the sentence was not part of a plea bargain.
McCormick had a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent, almost twice the legal limit of .08 percent, when he slammed head on into a car driven by Janet Esrock, 50, a math teacher at the Whitfield School in Creve Coeur.
Doctors operated on Esrock four times trying to save her life, but two weeks after the accident she died. Her 16 year old son was left permanently injured.
Janet Esrock`s family left the courthouse without commenting on the sentence, but her long time next door neighbor, Julie Abeln, was critical of the judge`s decision.
“You don`t expect an adult who should know better to be in this situation, and then for it to be okay,” she said. “Where does the buck stop? When does the message hit the community that drinking and driving is not an option.”
After the sentencing, reporters asked McCormick`s defense attorney, Scott Rosenblum, if he thought his client got off easy.
“That`s for everybody else to decide, that`s not for me to decide,” Rosenblum said.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch had been seeking a sentence of seven years in the penitentiary for McCOrmick, leaving him stunned by just a one year sentence in the county jail.
“It doesn’t sound fair. This is very outrageous conduct on his part and I think there has to be a significant price to pay for that,” McCulloch said.
As for Esrock`s friends, they only hope the death of such a respected teacher offers a lesson.
“Whether you are drunk or on drugs that is a vehicle, you have a weapon in your hands and you have got to stop the texting, stop talking on the phone, stop reading messages and certainly no drinking,” Abeln said. “I just hope that if we are going to have a tragedy that something good can come out of it and that everyone when they get in that car just thinks about it and just realizes that you have lives in your hand, whether it be your own or passengers in the car, that`s all I ask.”
Even though McCormick`s sentence is one year, and his probation five years, that year in jail counts as the first year of his probation. With good behavior, he could be released after 9 ½ months.
The judge ordered McCormick to wear an alcohol monitoring device for a year after his release.