BALTIMORE, MD — Former Episcopal bishop Heather Cook will stay in jail for almost another year, despite her request Monday to be released. A judge in Baltimore City Circuit Court denied her proposal to shave two years off her sentence.
Click Here: Rugby league Jerseys
“I can’t do it,” Cook, 62, reportedly said as she was led out of the courtroom on Monday, Nov 5.
She is incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
The defrocked bishop is serving a seven-year sentence for killing a man while she was driving drunk and texting, then leaving the scene.
Thomas Palermo, 41, was cycling in a bike lane on Roland Avenue two days after Christmas 2014 when Cook hit him. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Prosecutors said that Cook registered a 0.22 blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08 in Maryland.
Cook pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years in jail in October 2015 for manslaughter, DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and texting while driving.
It was not the first DUI for Cook. In 2010, she was charged with multiple offenses including possession of marijuana and DUI, for which she received probation before judgment and a $300 fine. Police in Caroline County brought those charges after an officer pulled Cook over on a traffic stop; there was no crash or injury involved.
At the hearing on Monday, Cook’s attorney asked the judge modify her sentence so the two years for leaving the scene of the crash would run concurrent with rather than in addition to the five years for which she was sentenced for manslaughter, according to WBAL.
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Timothy Doory denied the request, saying he could not justify the reduction in sentencing given the crime.
Cook’s attorney said that while he knew the hearing would be “traumatic” for her and the family of the victim, they wanted to “set the record straight” that she was remorseful, according to ABC 2 News, which reported Cook said in court: “I owe a debt I cannot repay and that haunts me.”
In addition to Monday’s attempt to have her sentence modified, Cook was denied her request to be released on parole in May 2017.
But she is slated to get out before serving her full sentence.
The defrocked bishop will be released in August 2019 due to credits earned for good behavior, according to WJZ.
When the judge denied her request Monday to be released earlier, the news station reported she cried and said: “I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” as she was led away in shackles.
Doory said while she appeared to have been rehabilitated in prison, she still needed to do the time, according to WJZ, which quoted the judge as saying: “August will be here before you know it.”
Rachel Palermo, the wife of Thomas Palermo, read a statement afterward outside the courthouse thanking the strangers who stayed with her husband after the crash.
“It brings me some peace to know that Tom was not alone at this time,” she said.
Tom Palermo’s widow reads a statement thanking those who helped her husband; courthouse security can be heard asking people to move. @wjz pic.twitter.com/vVDVh147EN
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) November 5, 2018
Cook, who was the first female bishop in Maryland, was elected the second highest-ranking official in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland in May 2014.
After she was charged and the case appeared to be headed for trial, Cook resigned on May 1, 2015.
Photo Credit: Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.