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Man gets 10 years for leaving friend in park
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff

Joseph Estok


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Published: 10/18/2007 12:13 AM

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Last summer, childhood friends Joseph Estok and Matthew Thies were reunited when Thies attended a memorial service for Estok's mother.

They went out drinking and eventually into Chicago to buy heroin and crack cocaine.

The next day, the 27-year-old Thies was found on a park bench in St. Charles, dead from an overdose.

Wednesday, the 30-year-old Estok was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaving Thies in a park instead of driving him to a hospital.

Estok faced six to 30 years in prison on the drug-induced homicide charge. He had asked for a jury trial, but agreed to a 10-year sentence, for which he is eligible for day-per-day credit.

Estok, of St. Charles, has been in jail since his July 2006 arrest. He will receive credit for 449 days behind bars.

Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon approved the plea agreement and will recommend to the Department of Corrections Estok have access to a drug treatment program.

Estok, whose prior criminal record includes a 2004 felony shoplifting charge, is the second person sentenced to prison for Thies' death.

Clinton Eash, 31, of Elburn was convicted of drug-induced homicide in a July 2007 bench trial before Sheldon. Eash was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

It was the first time Kane County used the drug-induced homicide law, which holds dealers and others accountable in drug deaths.

At Eash's sentencing last month, Carla Thies spoke about how her son's death had impacted and changed her family. She didn't get that chance Wednesday during Estok's brief hearing.

"We're glad it's over. It's more personal because they were neighbors," Theis said of her son and Estok. "I don't want to say much. It's just too hard."

After a day of drinking in June 2006, Eash was paid to drive Theis and Estok to an ATM and then Chicago so they could buy drugs, Assistant State's Attorney Nemura Pencyla said.

Later, when Thies was unresponsive and appeared to be overdosing, Eash and Estok tried to wake him with ice and a cold shower. Instead of taking him to a hospital, they drove out of their way to leave him on a park bench behind Fox Ridge Elementary School in St. Charles near his home, prosecutors said.

Pencyla said Thies' relatives and mother were informed of the Estok plea agreement.