My old friend Heather Cook, the former Bishop Suffragan of Maryland, who while driving drunk AND texting killed a young man on his bicycle, has entered into a plea agreement with the prosecution.
Over the summer Heather’s lawyers postponed the trial date hoping to come to an agreement about punishment without spending the time and money for an actual trial. It seems to have worked.
From the Baltimore Brew website:
One day before her trial was to begin, Cook pleaded guilty today to four charges: auto manslaughter; leaving the scene of a driving accident involving a fatality; driving while intoxicated and texting while driving.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 22 years in prison. The state recommended a sentence of 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended, for a total of 10 years in prison, plus five years probation after the prison sentence is served.
In the State of Maryland v. Heather Cook, the former bishop initially faced 13 charges. The other nine charges against Cook will not be pursued under the state’s recommendations. They range from traffic violations to homicide by motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Associate Judge Timothy Doory, who is presiding the case for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, set October 27 as the date for sentencing. He said the sentence he imposes can be as much as the state recommended or less, but he cannot impose more prison time.
I’m actually SHOCKED the prosecution would agree to only ten years in jail for all her confessed crimes. Are they being kind or realistic? Does her sentencing have anything to do with the fact she’s a female, or a former clergy? Is it that a sure ten is better than any unknown outcome at a trial?
I have zero sympathy for what Heather did and do think she should pay with serious jail time. I did read that the family of the man killed was kept in the loop by the prosecution so I have to assume they know and are okay with ten years in jail.
The next big question is if the Episcopal Diocese of Baltimore is liable for knowing Heather had been charged with DUI in 2010 and basically ignoring it to hire the first female in the job. I predict the Palermo family will sue the Diocese for one heck of a lot of money. And I predict they will win.