[Episcopal News Service] Former Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook was sentenced Oct. 27 to seven years in prison for causing the Dec. 27, 2014 death of a Baltimore father of two.
Cook had pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to automobile manslaughter and three other criminal charges for causing the car-bicycle accident in suburban Baltimore that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old software engineer at Johns Hopkins Hospital who also built custom bike frames.
The charges included driving the car that struck Palermo while having nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood system, texting while driving and then leaving the scene of the accident. She was originally accused of 13 charges relating to the fatal accident.
Judge Timothy Doory sentenced Cook after testimony about the impact of Palermo’s death from his mother, wife and sisters-in-law, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
Cook addressed the Palermo family after their testimony. “I am so sorry for the grief and the agony I have caused,” she said, according to the Sun. “This is my fault. I accept complete responsibility.”
Attorneys for Cook and the Palermo family said during the hearing that they had resolved any civil liability arising out of the fatal accident.
At the end of the hearing Cook was handcuffed and taken into custody. She had been free on $2.5 million bail since being charged