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Drunk Driver Gets Jail, Probation For Fatal Crash

Patrick McCormick of Chesterfield, who struck and killed a teacher last year, was sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation.

Patrick McCormick, 55, of Chesterfield was sentenced to one year in St. Louis County Jail Friday by Associate Circuit Court Judge Thomas Prebil. McCormick pleaded guilty to driving into a teacher's car while he was drunk on August 26, 2011.

The one-year jail sentence was for a second-degree assault charge. He was also initially given five years in prison on the manslaughter charge, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on five years probation.

McCormick also must seek alcohol counseling and wear an alcohol monitoring SCRAM bracelet for one year after his release from jail.

 Esrock, 50, died .

Friends of the Esrock family reacted angrily to what they said was a very light sentence.

'What a life is worth'

“Judge Prebil just told everyone in St. Louis that it is OK to drink and drive,” said Sue Ferguson, who said she was Chuck Esrock’s employer and a family friend. Chuck Esrock is Janet’s husband. “And if you kill someone, you serve nine months and 13 days in jail. That’s what a life is worth.”

Typically, a prisoner will serve nine months and 13 days on a on a one-year sentence.

Ferguson said, “The family is in shock. They’re upset. We all are.”

McCormick's attorney, N. Scott Rosenblum, was asked by reporters if he thought his client got off easy.

He replied, "That's not for me to decide. You heard the judge. The judge has considered everything.  He is a very, very thorough, thoughtful jurist. That's for everybody else to decide, that's not for me to decide."

Esrock family members did not comment on Friday's sentence other than one remark from her brother as he left the courtroom.

"There is nothing that we can say that's going to bring my sister back," he stated.

‘I see her every day’

McCormick and Chuck Esrock made statements before the sentencing.

McCormick apologized to the family and said he agonizes over the crash and frequently dreams about Janet and Jonathan Esrock.

“I see her every day in one form or another,” he said.

“I have a heartfelt and deep emotional feeling of guilt of everything I’ve done,” McCormick said.

'I miss my wife'

Esrock, who spoke first, said he agonized over what to say and only decided on Aug. 2, his wife’s birthday.

He told about getting a midnight phone call and listening to a doctor detail his wife and son’s injuries.

“I quickly realized my life had been changed forever,” he said.

Esrock talked about the hole left by his wife’s absence among his family, friends and Whitfield School, and the hardship they’ve, faced including his father-in-law’s stroke and his son Jonathan’s struggle to recover from his injuries.

“I will tell you I worry about my children,” Esrock said. “But more than anything, I miss my wife.”

Share your opinions in our comments section: Do you believe McCormick's sentence was fair?

Carol Young August 17, 2012 at 04:49 PM
ONLY ONE YEAR for Janet's life! Seems incredible to me.
ltm August 17, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I do not understand. I am not angry or vengeful; I just do not understand the courts sentence. This man, through his own negligible behavior took a life recklessly. This would at least be considered man slaughter. Any idiot knows that when he/she gets into an automobile and is intoxicated that they are breaking the law. Patrick McCormick is a 55 year old mature male. If he doesn't get it by now - who knows? I am truly saddened for the loss of Janet Esrocks life and her son, Johathans, injuries and the grief her family must suffer over a dumb ass drunk driver. There is no mention of alcohol rehab or any suggestion of alcohol reform for this offender. I just don't understand the Courts sentence.
JW August 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Actually, McCormick got no jail time for the death of Mrs Esrock, only probation. The year in jail is for the injury to her son, Jonathan. By the way, the defense petitioned for a change of judges several times, until they got Tom Prebil, the one who apparently would provide the best deal?
Leroy Brown August 17, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Disgusting. Absolutley disgusting.
Joe Scott August 17, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Lance - I may have neglected to add he also must seek alcohol counseling and wear an alcohol-monitoring SCRAM bracelet. He was found guilty of manslaughter and given 5 years, however that sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation. I'll make sure the article spells that out.
Charyl August 17, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Remember the name Tom Prebil. I don't know if he was appointed or voted in by the taxpayers, but if it was the taxpayers let's vote him out.
JW August 18, 2012 at 08:10 AM
I just read that a high school English teacher (elsewhere) was sentenced to 5 years in prison for sex with 18-year-old male students, and the students told the court they didn't feel victimized—this is wrong, no question. But then a drunk driver in Chesterfield gets only probation for taking a life, Mrs. Esrock's? And about 9 months in jail for "assaulting" Esrock's son with a car?! Inexplicable.
JW August 18, 2012 at 08:17 AM
That's a very good idea Charyl!
MikeW August 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Crooked judge and crooked lawyer. Unbelievable!
ltm August 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Okay! Here is the deal. Don't give Judge Prebil the option of getting away with his sentence. By no means is Mr. Prebil a slow witted individual or a misunderstood jurist softie. I personally feel that there is more here than meets the eye. What is/was Judge Prebil's premise for adjudicating a punishment fitting a jaywalker? It seems to me there are other influences involved here. Is there a relationship between Judge Prebil and others serving the court on this case? Could there be some sort of political influence regarding this case? Perhaps I am grasping at straws but Mike W suggested crooked Judge and crooked lawyer. He just might have hit upon something worth looking into. I do not believe the Judge or lawyer are crooked but something seems surely amiss. I did read favorable ratings on Judge Prebil by the MO Bar Association but then he is a member of the MO Bar Association. Judge Prebil has a long career in practicing law, as well as Mr Rosenblum, and it would be very interesting to hear Judge Prebil's slant on his sentencing that he gave to Mr. McCormick since Mr B.Rosenblum opted out of making a comment on Mr. McCormicks sentence. Was there a prosecutor in this case initially? Does he/she have anything to add to this sentencing sham? Is Patch interested in furthering their reporting on this issue regarding sentencing? This is my last input on this matter. I am done. I rest my case now and forever, amen.
Alan Napier August 20, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I cannot find anywhere any mention of prior convictions. What gives here?
Leon McKinney, Jr March 06, 2013 at 03:05 PM
This is why I feel we don't have a true justice system, but a collection of kangaroo courts overseen by philsopher kings in black robes. Based on years of reading about Scott Rosenblum and his various cases, I would be unsurprised to learn he is a crooked lawyer, and that something unethical / illegal was done to influence Judge Prebil. I believe in "an eye for an eye, a life for a life" - I would fully understand and empathsize with the Esrock family if they decided to obtain justice with their own hands. I probably would.
Leon McKinney, Jr March 06, 2013 at 03:11 PM
I should have added that I wasn't necessarily advocating the death penalty for the drunk driver killer, but 9 months and 13 days is a damn joke - it's a waste of MY tax dollars to pay for a system that produces such disgusting outcomes. Let me also add that Judge Prebil should lose a loved one and have to watch as the killer also gets a puny sentence - 9 months and 13 days sounds right to me!

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