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Episcopal Bishop Faces Manslaughter Charges in Md. Cyclist's Death

The bishop, Heather Cook, is facing manslaughter charges and a warrant has been issued for her arrest, the Baltimore State's Attorney said Friday.
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An arrest warrant was issued Friday for Maryland's first female Episcopal bishop after prosecutors found enough evidence to charge her in the death of a Baltimore cyclist two days after Christmas.

Bishop Heather Cook's Subaru station wagon struck Thomas Palermo, 41, as he rode on a residential street around 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 27, police said. An investigation found that Palermo was in a dedicated bike lane and that Cook was texting-while-driving and had a blood-alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit, NBC affiliate WBAL reported.

Palermo hit the hood and windshield of Cook's car, and he later died at a hospital. Cook initially left the scene but returned 20 minutes later, the Rev. Eugene Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, said in a statement last month.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Friday in announcing the charges that "no one is above the law." An attorney for Cook couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Cook faces several charges, including two counts of vehicular manslaughter, negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. She could get up to 10 years in prison for the manslaughter and leaving the scene charges if found guilty. In 2010 she pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge, which some church officials said they were unaware of when she was elected last May to her No. 2 leadership position in the diocese, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In a statement Friday, Sutton said the church is "deeply heartbroken" for both Cook and the Palermo family.


— Erik Ortiz