Image From ...stltoday.com
In Chesterfield, MO, a western suburb of St. Louis, they've got to be wondering what happened to justice. That's because you won't find it there.
Last September we told you about a traffic crash in which a 53 year old man who was drunk drove his 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe across the center line of Wildhorse Creek Road and collided head-on with a 1992 Infiniti being driven by Janet Esrock, a 50- year old teacher at the Whitfield School, coach, wife and mother. She was killed. Her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, was seriously injured but survived.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that the driver, Patrick McCormick, failed a field sobriety test and police said his blood-alcohol content was 0.14 (nearly twice the legal limit) about two hours after the crash. A second test taken an hour later showed a blood-alcohol reading at 0.12.
McCormick pleaded guilty in June to first-degree involuntary manslaughter and second degree assault. On Friday he was sentenced.
1 year in jail. Let me repeat that: 1 year for vehicular homicide. With good behavior he is eligible for release from jail in 9.5 months. He's also sentenced to 5 years probation and must wear a monitoring device for a year after his release.
That's no misprint. St. Louis County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Prebil said determining the appropriate sentence was "a difficult decision" and that he considered the damage the crash caused both families.
How's that for common sense and fairness in the 'Show Me' state? With that ruling in place, next time someone goes out drinking and kills someone on the way home, their lawyers can argue that their client deserves the same leniency extended to Mr. McCormick... and why wouldn't they?
Something is very wrong. Is there no accountability?
Joel Currier, reporter for the Post-Dispatch, spoke to Julie Abeln, a neighbor and longtime friend of the victim who said she thinks Prebil's sentence shows authorities don't take drunk driving seriously. "It sends the wrong message to the entire community."
I've got a feeling the inappropriate leniency extended here never reaches the poor guy who's stuck with a court-appointed attorney representing him. Judge Prebil, shame on you.