Guilty plea from former bishop in drunk driving case

On Dec. 27, 2014, at about 2:30 p.m., a 58-year-old woman struck a 41-year-old man on a bicycle in North Baltimore. According to the woman’s guilty plea, she was driving while intoxicated and texting when the accident happened. She left the accident scene, only returning a half an hour later after a friend urged her to.

The woman, Heather Cook, was the first woman bishop in the Episcopal diocese. She resigned this year and has had a revocation of her clergy credentials. She had previously pleaded guilty in 2010 after an arrest for DUI; however, the officials who appointed her bishop said that they didn’t know the circumstances of that arrest when they considered her for bishop.

After returning to the accident scene, Cook was arrested and her blood alcohol concentration was almost three times Maryland’s legal limit. She had struck the victim while he was in the bicycle lane. She pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident, automobile manslaughter, DWI and texting while driving. The maximum sentence possible is 22 years, although the prosecution has said they are seeking a 20-year sentence, with 10 years of it suspended and five years of probation. Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 27.

When facing serious charges such as automobile manslaughter, it’s important to understand the penalties the prosecution is seeking and what the judge might decide to do if you are found guilty. A criminal defense attorney can help you develop a strong defense to the charges if you don’t want to accept a plea bargain. The sooner you begin on your defense, the better.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Former bishop Heather Cook pleads guilty in death of cyclist,” Justin Fenton, Sep. 08, 2015