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Patrick McCormick Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter, Assault in Whitfield Teacher's Death

The state recommended a seven-year prison sentence for the charges involving Janet Esrock's death. Sentencing was deferred until Aug. 17.

Patrick J. McCormick pleaded guilty Friday morning to first-degree involuntary manslaughter involving a DWI and second-degree assault.

McCormick, of Chesterfield, was legally drunk when he drove his car head-on into another on Wildhorse Creek Road Aug. 26, fatally injuring Janet Esrock, a teacher, and seriously injuring her teenage son, Jon Esrock. Janet Esrock, of Chesterfield, died Sept. 11.

About 10 of Esrock’s family and friends gathered in the courtroom to hear the plea and huddled with Key after the decision.

Chuck Esrock, Janet’s husband, declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.

McCormick answered questions from St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Prebil about his understanding of what was taking place. McCormick told the court he is no longer employed and has been taking medication to treat depression.

Assistant Prosecutor Alan Key said the state is recommending a seven-year prison sentence. Prebil will hand down the decision August 17.

“He’s going to prison, and he knows it,” Key said after the hearing. “The only question is will it be for five years or the seven. My gut feeling is he’ll get five to six years on the class B felony (the manslaughter charge) and a suspended sentence for the class C charge (the assault).”

During the hearing, Key told the court that McCormick’s blood-alcohol content tested at 0.14 percent at 12:30 a.m. and 0.12 percent at 1:30 a.m.

“Your blood-alcohol content drops about .02 percent every hour, so he was probably at .16 during the accident,” Key said afterward.

If that is accurate, McCormick’s blood-alcohol level was about twice the legal limit. When asked about McCormick's level of intoxication, Key said some people can outwardly appear to be fine at .16 blood-alcohol content.

“But when you get behind the wheel of a several ton vehicle, your impairment is magnified,” he said.

For more information on this case in Creve Coeur Patch, see the following articles:

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