Court rejects bishop’s plea for reduced bail

The Suffragan Bishop of Maryland must post a $2.5 million cash bond in order to be released from prison pending her trial.

A Baltimore judged declined to modify the conditions for bail for the Rt. Rev. Heather Cook, holding the Suffragan Bishop of Maryland must post a $2.5 million cash bond in order to be released from prison pending her trial. Bishop Cook surrendered to police on Friday afternoon after the State’s Attorney announced she would face four felony charges in connection with the 27 Dec 2014 death of Thomas Palermo.

Bishop Cook is charged with striking and killing the cyclist with her car and fleeing the scene of the accident. Prosecutors further allege the bishop was texting at the time of the accident, and was intoxicated.

At a bail hearing held on 12 January 2014, Bishop Cook appeared before District Court Judge Nicole Pastore Klein via videolink the county jail, where she was held in protective custody over the weekend. Assistant State’s Attorney Kurt Bjorklund asked the court to revoke bail for the bishop, saying her having fled the scene of the accident, coupled with a 2010 DUI arrest made her a flight risk. Bishop Cook’s actions represented “a reckless and careless indifference to life,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Jose Molina asked for the bond to be lowered, saying the bishop would enter a residential treatment program or accept house arrest pending trial. In the week following the collision and up until her arrest, the bishop had entered Farther Martin’s Ashley, a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Havre de Grace for treatment, her lawyer said.

The court declined to modify the bail, effectively keeping the bishop in the county jail pending her trial. The judge observed that having fled the scene of the accident, the bishop displayed a callous indifference for human life.

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