Parole Denied for Former Bishop Who Struck, Killed Bicyclist

WASHINGTON — Heather Cook, the former Episcopal bishop who pleaded guilty in a drunken-driving crash that killed a cyclist in Baltimore in 2014, has been denied parole after serving less than two years of her seven-year sentence.

At a parole hearing in Jessup, Maryland, Tuesday morning, two commissioners heard from three people arguing for her release and three arguing against.

Cook — whose blood alcohol level after the crash was recorded at .22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit in Maryland — pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, driving while drunk, texting while driving and leaving the scene of the crash that killed Thomas Palmero, 41, in December 2014. Palermo was a well-known and well-liked figure in the Maryland cycling community.

After the hearing, Palermo’s widow, Rachel, read a brief statement, telling drivers:

“If you still talk on your phone or text while driving, please put your phone down. If you plan to go out and drink, please set up a ride before you go. I want you to think of a six- and an eight-year-old who wish their dad were still here. I want you to think of me and my pain. I want you to think of Tom’s parents and their loss. And I want you to think of your own loved one.”

Cycling proponents have argued against Cook’s parole, citing her previous drunken-driving charge in 2010. In that case, Cook registered a blood alcohol level of .27 percent and police said they found marijuana and empty liquor bottles in her car. Police also noted she was driving on a shredded tire.

Cook had been the first female bishop in the Episcopal diocese. She was deposed after resigning her position in May 2015.

The post Parole denied for former bishop who struck, killed bicyclist appeared first on WTOP.

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