BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New developments in the case against Maryland Bishop Heather Cook. Wednesday, a Baltimore grand jury indicted Cook following the hit and run accident that killed cyclist Tom Palermo. Police say her blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit and she was texting and driving.
Rick Ritter has more on what this means.READ MORE: Despite Less Traffic, Nearly 600 Marylanders Died In Crashes Last Year, Department Of Transportation Says
Cook was indicted on 13 counts. Her case will now move from district court to circuit court. This is just one week after the diocese called for her to resign.
Slammed with a 13 count indictment and charges including automobile manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, DUI and texting while driving—charges that could put Bishop Heather Cook behind bars for more than 20 years.
Cook’s indictment comes after the December 20th hit and run accident that killed Tom Palermo, a collision rocking both his family and the cycling community.
“It’s unconscionable. Absolutely unconscionable,” said cyclist Steve Thomas.
Law professor Byron Warnken explains Cook was only arrested and detained, never formally charged.
“The formal charge is when the state’s attorney’s office goes to the grand jury and indicts, which is what they did here, moving along the legal process,” said Byron Warnken, www.warnkenlaw.com. “That then starts the clock, starts the calendar of things that happened.”READ MORE: Prince George's County Police Searching For Missing 83-Year-Old Man
Since the accident, Cook posted $2.5 million bail and her past has been exposed. A 2010 DUI arrest shows Cook’s battle against addiction. A timeline on the Episcopal diocese’s website suspects Cook was inebriated during a private dinner before she was ordained as Bishop Suffragan.
Now the diocese wants her to resign.
WJZ tried reaching out to the Episcopal diocese of Maryland for an interview but they only released a short statement, saying, “We’re waiting for the disciplinary process to continue and for Bishop Cook to respond to our call for her to resign.”
This as many continue to mourn and others who never knew Tom Palermo are touched enough by the tragedy to pay tribute.
“You don’t have to know him to appreciate that could have been your friend, anyone, your father,” said cyclist Nima Shahidi.
We spoke with Cook’s attorney Dave Irwin. He declined to comment on the indictment but says Cook remains at an inpatient treatment facility.MORE NEWS: 16-Year-Old Armed With Airsoft Gun, Knife Killed In Trooper-Involved Shooting, Maryland State Police Say
Cook’s arraignment is set for March 5.