Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Deadly Professor Amy Bishop Pleads Guilty

Amy Bishop

Amy Bishop

On September 11, 2012, Neurobiologist Amy Bishop, 47, pleaded guilty to opening fire during a February 12, 2010, University of Alabama in Huntsville faculty meeting, and turning the usually dry proceedings into a bloodbath. The Harvard-educated professor’s rampage left Gopi Podila, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnston dead, and wounded Luis Cruz-Vera, Joseph Leahy and Stephanie Monticciolo. Bishop changed her original plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to guilty, avoiding the death penalty. By pleading guilty to one charge of capital murder involving two or more people and three charges of attempted murder, Bishop legally affirmed the accusations against her as fact, though, according to Alabama law, the case must still be heard by a jury. The abbreviated trial, scheduled for September 24, is not expected to hold any surprises. This part of the case may be resolved very soon, but the case of Amy Bishop and the Murder of Seth Bishop, is slated to come next.

Bishop is charged in the December 6, 1986 shooting death of her brother, Seth, 18. Investigators in Norfolk County Massachusetts had ruled his death an accident, but reopened the investigation after Bishop’s Alabama workplace shooting. Bishop told police at the time that she shot her brother in the chest by accident. Her mother swore she saw the whole thing. A review of police reports and crime-scene photos, however, revealed much more. When they arrived at the scene, an armed Bishop had already fled and was trying get a getaway car at gunpoint from a local auto dealership. There was a confrontation with police in which Bishop pointed her weapon at officers, who eventually talked her down and arrested her. Though there was some confusion and finger pointing regarding exactly who had had the case dropped and why, it is possible that that information was not communicated up the chain of command. Police thought that she should have beend charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition in 1986. Ultimately they let a grand jury decide, and on June 16, 2010, they indicted Bishop on charges of first-degree murder. That day, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating formally requested Bishop’s extradition from Alabama, presumably setting the stage for the next phase in the case of Amy Bishop.

Feature Article: The Case of the Deadly Professor

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