Drunk driver gets unusual plea deal

April 7, 2011 5:07:52 PM PDT
A tearful mother emerged from court in Brooklyn, remembering her 28-year-old son, Malcolm McCormack.

He was killed back in October of 2008 after Michael Ortiz, who was only 19 at the time, had two drinks, got behind the wheel and struck McCormack while he was crossing the street.

The ultimate irony? Fay McCormack, the victim's mother, prosecuted drunk driving cases for 18 years in Georgia. Her family tearfully gave this drunk driver a break.

"We did not throw him out to the wolves. We embraced him," Fred McCormack, the victim's father, said.

It is a plea deal that the Brooklyn district attorney calls the first of its kind. Ortiz gets no prison time, but he will spend at least three years speaking at 100 different schools about the dangers of drunk driving.

He'll also have to listen to at least 50 other victim's families pour out their own tragic stories of loss. Then, and only then, will his felony manslaughter charge be dismissed.

Fay McCormack says she's still not sure this was the right choice, especially because Malcolm, a gifted musician who was just accepted to law school, had so much to live for.

"There's a big hole in my heart that will never be full again," she said. "Not once, did the mother, the father, the defendant or his attorney say I'm sorry."

Afterwards, that did happen during a private meeting.

"He cried. He said he was so sorry," she said.

Ortiz's lawyer was not allowing him to say it in front of us.

"Of course he's sorry," the lawyer said.

But Malcolm McCormack's family is just hoping Ortiz will say it to anyone who will listen and learn as a result.