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Former Bishop Pleads Guilty to Automobile Manslaughter

Mario Rosales1 year ago

A former bishop Heather Cook, 58, has pleaded guilty to a fatal hit-and-run that occurred while she was intoxicated. She now faces 10 years in prison.

Description of the Accident

Reuters News Agency reports that Cook pleaded guilty to automobile manslaughter.

In December, Cook was involved in a fatal pedestrian accident which left 41-year-old Tom Palermo dead. Cook was allegedly under the influence of alcohol texting when the incident occurred.  

Cook left the scene of the accident but later returned. Local police administered a breathalyzer test that revealed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.22% – nearly three times the legal limit.

Details of the Court Proceedings

Heather Cook had originally pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this year; however, after conclusive evidence proving her guilt was presented, she decided to plead guilty.

The prosecution will ask Cook to serve a 10 year sentence for automobile manslaughter. Attorney Jose Molina acknowledged what the main reason for the guilty plea was to give some form of closure to the family of the victim.  

National Auto Accident Statistics

The following information was provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • A total of 33,561 people were killed in auto accidents in 2012 – a 3.3-percent increase from the 32,479 deaths recorded in 2011.
  • Of those killed in 2012:
  • Alcohol was determined to be a factor in 10,322 of the pedestrian accidents recorded in 2012.


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