Ten months after police said Chesterfield resident Patrick J. McCormick drove his car head-on into another on Wildhorse Creek Road, killing the driver and injuring her teen son, McCormick is expected to plead guilty Friday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
The court date is set for June 22, 9am in Clayton, 7900 Carondelet Avenue.
Chesterfield resident and Whitfield School teacher Janet Esrock died September 11, two weeks after the August 26 crash—having l after multiple surgeries, and requiring extensive therapy.
McCormick, 53, was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter DWI and second-degree assault.
The prosecutor in the case, St. Louis County Assisstant Prosecuting Attorney Alan Key, said McCormick would make a "blind plea"—typically a shortened term for "blind plea bargain."
No agreement on sentencing is attached to a blind plea. Sentencing is left entirely up to a judge.
Key said sentencing would be 6-8 weeks after McCormick's plea, putting it at about a year after the crash.
Key was prosecutor in the case of Sunset Hills cop Christine Miller who made a "blind plea" of guilty to a 2009 DWI crash that killed four Illinois grad students and injured one other.
Miller got eight years in prison, with parole possible after 6.5 years.
Why "blind plea"
McCormick's case was transferred among several judges since his arraignment November 9, 2011. McCormick's attorney did not offer an explanation to Chesterfield Patch as to why, at the time.
A definition on LegalMatch Law Library had this to say about "blind plea bargains":
"There are some reasons why a defendant might take a blind plea bargain. For example,
- if the judge has a record of going easy on people who plead guilty, or
- if the prosecution has a very good case, a blind plea might be a risk worth taking."
Esrock, 50, and her son Jon, 16 at the time, were Janet Esrock taught math and coached at Whitfield School. She left behind a husband and three children.
Esrock's husband, Chuck Esrock, is expected to attend McCormick's plea Friday.
Both site on Wildhorse Creek.
McCormick said in court he is no longer employed as a senior facilities director for Saint Louis University Medical Center. He has been out on bail since his arrest, according to court documents.
McCormick told the court he takes medication to treat depression.
What to expect
While each court case is different, the court and defendant in the Sunset Hills cop "blind plea" whispered the entire time. It was all but impossible for anyone beyond the rail to understand what was said. Sentencing was handled in the same way.
Observers had to scramble afterward to discover what exactly had gone down.
The defendant was then ushered from the court into a conference room with family.