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Episcopal Bishop enters not-guilty plea in accepting June trial date

Heather Cook, the Episcopal bishop charged with driving under the influence and fatally striking a bicyclist in December, effectively entered a not-guilty plea Thursday by accepting a June trial date.

With five members of the extended family of Towson resident Thomas Palermo, the man killed in the December 27 incident, in attendance, Cook and her attorneys accepted a June 4 trial date.

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In her first public appearance since the accident, Cook made no public comment at the city's Circuit Court.

Cook, 58, is charged with manslaughter for allegedly driving drunk and sending text messages when she struck and killed Palermo two days after Christmas in North Roland Park.

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Cook faces additional charges, including leaving the scene of the fatal accident and driving under the influence, which each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The state's attorney's office said Cook's breath-alcohol level was 0.22 percent, nearly triple the legal limit in Maryland.

Cook has been free on $2.5 million bail. Her attorney said previously that she had entered a treatment center for alcohol abuse.

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