Cook seeks early release from prison

Former Maryland bishop seeks ‘home detention’ for the final 18 months of her sentence

The former suffragan bishop of Maryland, Heather Cook, has filed a petition with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections to be granted “home detention”. In a letter dated 25 April 2018, the department’s Victims Services Unit informed the family of Cook’s victim, Thomas Palermo, of her request and offered them 10 days in which to file a response — family friends reported on Facebook.

On 27 Dec 2014 Cook struck and killed Thomas Palermo as he was riding his bicycle in a bike lane on Roland Avenue in North Baltimore. Cook fled the scene, but later returned and was arrested for drunk driving. At trial Cook plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, driving while texting and leaving the scene of an accident. She received a seven-year sentence. Last May, the defrocked bishop requested early parole, but was turned down by parole officials due to a lack of remorse at her hearing.

Cook has served one quarter of her sentence, and under Maryland law was eligible for parole as a non-violent offender last year. With time off for good behavior, Cook is scheduled for release from prison between 25 September 2019 and 21 Oct 2022 — with no time off.

Maryland law permits a convict to petition to serve home detention for the last 18-months of their sentence. To be paroled into a home detention program, a felon must have a sponsor and a plan for detention and support approved by the Department of Corrections.

The process, akin to a parole hearing, would include testimony from the victim’s family and recommendations as to her fitness for release from officials at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup where Cook has been confined since her October 27, 2015 sentencing.

Friends of the victim have launched a letter writing campaign on Facebook, urging people contact the Department of Corrections to voice their opposition to Cook’s petition. No hearing has been scheduled at this time.

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