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Baltimore Female Bishop Charged With Manslaughter In Drunk Driving Crash

January 10, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Baltimore Female Bishop Charged With Manslaughter In Drunk Driving Crash

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Episcopal bishop Heather Cook, Maryland’s second-highest leader of the diocese, has been charged with manslaughter for the hit-and run killing of cyclist Thomas Palermo, authorities said Friday.

Cook, 58, is also charged with texting while driving, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and driving with an alcohol blood level of .22, more than twice the legal limit.

A warrant was issued for her arrest at 11:02 a.m. Friday, but the details of her surrender to authorities was still being worked out, her lawyer told the Baltimore Sun.

She could face more than 20 years in prison.

Cook, who was the diocese’s first female bishop, veered into the bike lane on Roland Avenue in Baltimore on Dec. 27, slamming into Palermo’s bike and throwing him onto her windshield, authorities said. He then landed on a curb. He died of head injuries.

The bishop had been texting at the time of the collision, police said.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby told a Friday press conference that Cook then left the scene for 30 minutes and went to her apartment, then returned and talked to officers. She was given a breath test at a nearby police station.

“We cry for the Palermo family, our sister Heather and all in the community who are hurting,” said the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the diocese.

She was elected bishop in September.

But this is not the first time she has been charged with drunken driving.

She was pulled over on the Eastern Shore in 2010 by a sheriff’s deputy who wrote in his report that she was driving 29 mph on the shoulder in a 50-mph-zone. Her vehicle reeked of alcohol, she had vomit down the front of her blouse and there was a bottle of wine, a container of hard liquor and marijuana in the car, according to the report. Her blood-alcohol content was .27.

Charges Filed Against Md. Bishop Who Fatally Struck Cyclist Tom Palermo.

She pleaded guilty to driving while drunk. A drug possession was charged was dropped and she was sentenced to a fine and probation.

Cook told a vetting committee about the incident while seeking the bishop’s office, a diocesan spokesperson said.

From The NY Daily News

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