Heather Cook Pleads Guilty In Tom Palermo’s Death

September 11, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Former Episcopal bishop, Heather Cook is about to spend at least ten years in prison for hitting and killing a cyclist. Cook was drunk and texting when she struck Tom Palermo, a Baltimore resident and married father of two, in December of 2014.

Episcopal bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook

Heather Cook has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the killing of Tom Palermo in North Baltimore last year. Cook, an ex-Episcopal Bishop, was driving while drunk and texting on Roland Avenue in North Baltimore when she struck a cyclist.

The cyclist, Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old father of two young children, was thrown off his bike and landed into Cook’s windshield and remained on the side of the road for several hours.

Heather Cook, who was a newly installed bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, left the victim’s body on the side of the road and drove home. Several hours after the fatal crash, a friend was able to convince Cook to take responsibility for her action and return to the scene of the crime.

Police learned that Cook’s blood-alcohol content level was 0.22 percent, it is illegal to go over 0.08 percent in Maryland.

Via her lawyer, David Irwin, Cook pleaded guilty to automobile manslaughter and three other criminal charges. The 58-year-old woman was supposed to spend 20 years behind bars, but after accepting a plea deal, she will be imprisoned for only ten years.

Irwin said the former Episcopal bishop pleaded guilty to help speed closure for the Palermo family. Mr. Irwin revealed that his client has been an example to the community and added:

“My client, as I have said before, and all of us cannot express in words the sadness that we feel for the Palermo family. It was a tragedy. There are no winners in this case, only losers.”

Alisa Rock, a Palermo family member, shared:

“We hope that, one day, Bishop Cook can truly grasp the enormity of the loss her reckless behavior caused for Tom any my sister, the children, his parents and our community. It’s time for us as a community to send a strong message that we will not tolerate drivers who text on their smartphones, or drive while intoxicated.The next victim could be your parents, your child, your friend — even you.”

Cook has announced that she will address the family of the man she killed when she faces Judge Timothy Doory at her sentencing hearing on October 27.

The Diocese of Maryland is being blamed for the death of Tom Palermo because they were aware of Heather Cook’s arrest, her DUI charge in 2010 and her history of alcohol abuse and kept it a secret and never demanded that she seek help.


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