Former Episcopal bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts related to the December drunken-driving death of bicyclist Thomas Palermo in North Baltimore.
She pleaded guilty to one count of automobile manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years; leaving the scene of a fatal accident, which also carries a maximum penalty of 10 years; and driving while under the influence and texting while driving, which both bring a maximum penalty of one year.
I can't say I'm too surprised, since in cases like these, it's my experience that the accused usually pleas, but the sentence prosecutors are seeking would be the longest I've ever heard of in the region.
Prosecutors said they would ask for a sentence of 20 years, with all but 10 years suspended, to be followed by five years' probation. Judge Timothy Doory scheduled sentencing for Oct. 27. He said he would not sentence Cook to any more time than prosecutors are seeking but could give her less.
Still local bike advocates don't think it's enough.
Bicycle advocates Liz Cornish of Bikemore and Nate Evans of Bike Maryland attended the hearing and said they did not believe the sentence prosecutors are seeking is sufficient. Tougher penalties would deter others from committing similar crimes and contribute to a greater awareness of the "immense responsibility that comes with operating a motor vehicle," Cornish said.