- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

BALTIMORE (AP) - A Baltimore judge declined Monday to reduce the $2.5 million bail set for an Episcopal bishop charged with killing a cyclist while drunk and texting.

An attorney for Heather Cook, the No. 2 leader for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, said after a hearing that Cook can’t make bail at that amount and will stay in jail.

The diocese has said that Cook struck Tom Palermo with her car on Dec. 27. She was charged with manslaughter and other offenses. Prosecutors say in addition to being drunk at the time of the accident Cook was texting on her cellphone. The cellphone was issued by the Diocese of Maryland, according to spokeswoman Sharon Tillman.

At a bail review hearing Monday afternoon Assistant State’s Attorney Kurt Bjorklund asked District Court Judge Nicole Pastore Klein to remove the possibility of any bail. Bjorklund pointed to a previous drunken driving conviction and noted that Cook left the Palermo collision scene for about 30 minutes. He suggested that those are signs Cook is dangerous and a flight risk.

Bjorklund called Cook “an extreme danger to public safety,” adding that she had already demonstrated “extremely reckless and negligent driving” in 2010, when she was charged with drunken driving in Caroline County. In that instance Cook registered .27 percent blood alcohol content during a breath test. The legal limit in Maryland is .08.

Defense attorney Jose Molina argued for a lower bail, saying Cook has admitted to having an alcohol problem and would agree to go into a treatment program or house arrest prior to a trial. After the accident and before her arrest, Cook had checked into Father Martin’s Ashley, a drug and alcohol treatment facility.

But Klein sided with the state, determining that Cook is a flight risk, and poses a danger to public safety.

“She was a flight risk because she left the scene,” Klein said. “It concerns me that she struck someone and left. That represents a reckless and careless indifference to life.”

Cook was elected as the Episcopal Church of Maryland’s first female bishop in September.

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