In our previous post, we began speaking about the plea deal reached by former Episcopalian bishop Heather Cook. As we noted, Cook initially faced 13 criminal charges, but ended up only pleading guilty to one count of automobile manslaughter, one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident and driving under the influence. All of these are, of course, serious charges, but certainly amount to less than her initial case would have.
Although the charges Cook pleaded guilty to could land her a penalty of 21 years in prison, Prosecutors are apparently planning to request a sentence of 20 years, with half of that sentence being suspended and five years of probation to follow her release. With probation such as this, Cook could end up serving the remaining 10 years if she ends up breaking the terms of her probation, which include the use of an ignition interlock device and alcohol abuse counseling.
Cook’s attorney has said that he will argue for less time, partially on the grounds that Cook life is largely considered exemplary. The family of the crash victim is apparently advocating the maximum sentence. Whether or not the judge will reduce Cook’s sentence remains to be seen, but it is important to point out that strong advocacy at sentencing can certainly make a difference in how a case turns out.
As with Cook, anybody who faces serious criminal charges should work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest case possible. Doing so ensures they have the best possible