No parole for Heather Cook, bishop who killed cyclist while driving drunk
The former Episcopal Church bishop who ran over and killed a cyclist in 2014 when she was drunk has been denied parole by the Maryland Parole Commission.
Heather Cook was Bishop of Maryland when she ran over and killed Thomas Palermo, 41 and married with two children. She pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving, driving while texting and leaving the scene of an accident in the crash.
Maryland does not categorise vehicular manslaughter as a violent crime and Cook becomes eligible for parole when she has served 25 per cent of her sentence, in July.
However, according to the Baltimore Sun, the two commissioners who ruled on the case told commission chairman David Blumberg they denied Cook parole in part because she 'took no responsibility' for her actions and displayed a 'lack of remorse' during the 90-minute hearing.
Blumberg said Cook called her alcoholism a disease and described the parole process as a 'brutal irony', but never apologised to Rachel Palermo, Thomas' widow and the mother of his two children.
He said it would have been unusual for parole to be granted so early because 'many in the general public think these sentences are very short to start with'.
Cook was the first female bishop to be ordained in Maryland. It later emerged she had had a previous conviction for drink driving, in 2010, but that this had not been discussed in any depth by the search committee that recommended her.