Former Episcopal bishop Heather Cook was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for killing a cyclist in a drunken crash days after Christmas.
Cook, 59, pleaded guilty last month to automobile manslaughter in the death of 41-year-old Thomas Palermo, a married father of two young children. She was taken into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing Wednesday.
The case outraged cyclists and shook the church. Prosecutors said that Cook’s blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit for driving and that she was texting at the time of the Dec. 27 crash.
Prosecutors wanted a sentence of 10 years followed by probation, but the judge handling the case had said he might hand down less time.
Cook’s attorney had argued for a shorter sentence. Attorney David Irwin said Cook had in many ways lived a model life and been receiving treatment for alcoholism.
Cook was elected bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland — the No. 2 position in the church — in 2014.
But unknown to many of those who elected her, Cook had been arrested for suspected drunken driving in 2010.
She received probation in that case.