Heather Cook Pleads Guilty in Roland Park Crash That Killed Cyclist

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Bishop Heather Cook (BCPD booking photo)
Bishop Heather Cook (BCPD booking photo)

Heather Cook pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of manslaughter, drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident that she faced in connection with the crash that killed cyclist Tom Palermo.

According to the AP, the former Episcopal bishop appeared in court one day before her trial was scheduled to begin after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors. At sentencing on October 27, the state will seek a 10-year prison sentence.

WJZ-TV’s Mike Hellgren reports that Cook declined to speak at the hearing.

Cook hit the 41-year-old Palermo while he was riding in the bike lane of Roland Ave. on Dec. 27, then left the scene of the accident before returning. Tests later revealed that her blood alcohol content was .22, nearly three times the legal limit, and that she was texting while driving. She was released on $2.5 million bail.

At the time, Cook was the number-2 bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. She later resigned the position, and was defrocked.

The 58-year-old Cook initially pleaded not guilty to the 13 charges against her, but Cook’s attorney had previously said that she wanted to avoid what would likely be a high-profile trial. Her initial June trial date was rescheduled to allow more time for a plea deal.

Cook had a previous DUI arrest in 2010.

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