A McGraw man who was accused of driving drunk back in August and causing a horrific crash that killed a McGraw woman has entered a guilty plea in Cortland County Court.
41 year Gary Strout Jr. of 26 West Center Street, McGraw has pled guilty to a felony count of vehicular manslaughter as part of a plea deal.
Back August 29th Strout is was driving his pick-up truck eastbound on Route 41 Polkville when he struck a westbound vehicle driven by 55 year old Janet Cochran also of McGraw. The crash occurred in front of the State Department of Transportation Maintenance Facility.
Cochran was severely injured in the crash, she transported to the Cortland Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. Strout was also taken to the Cortland Regional Medical Center with leg and ankle injuries he was treated and released.
Strout was initially charged with a felony count of vehicular manslaughter along with a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated along with vehicle and traffic charges of failure to keep right and two counts of unsafe tires. Later a grand jury incited him on five counts including the manslaughter charge as well as two counts of D-W-I, reckless driving, and speeding.
Strout admitted that he had left work the morning of the crash and had been at the Palm Gardens Tavern in Cortland where he had consumed beers; he was on his way home and looked away from the road to light a cigarette when he looked up he collided with Cochran’s vehicle.
Strout has a previous conviction of driving while ability impaired from 2005.
In exchange for the guilty plea to the top count, County prosecutors have recommended that Strout be sentenced to six months in jail and 5 years probation. County District Attorney Mark Suben says the deal was approved by Cochran’s families who have said they want Strout to receive treatment and be rehabilitated so that he can support his family.
County Judge Julie Campbell agreed to the recommended sentence, Strout could have faced up to 15 years in prison,
In addition to the jail time, Strout must pay thousands of dollars in fines; he will lose his license, and must equip any vehicles he will drive with an ignition interlock device.
Strout is due for sentencing on March 28th, he is currently free on bail.