Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Deadly Professor

Awaiting Trial

Amy Bishop's lawyer, Roy W. Miller, says his client doesn't even remember the shooting. She's asked him whether she still has a job. He's planning an insanity defense.

Miller is the lawyer assigned to Bishop when she filed an Affidavit of Indigency and Order after being arrested. The form warns that false answers may be considered perjury, but on it she stated that neither she nor her husband have a job (her $66,000 a year contract isn't up until May), they don't have money in the bank or investments, and they don't own any property (they paid for their house in cash).

Colleagues also told investigators that they believed Bishop had planted some sort of "herpes bomb" in the science building. Police swept the building and failed to find a bomb, but they did find a 9 mm handgun believed to have been used in the shootings. Bishop had studied the herpes virus in her post-doctoral work at Harvard. And investigators have found that in one of her unpublished novels, she imagined a herpes virus that would cause pregnant women to miscarry. The novel was about a depressed female scientist worried about getting tenure, aided by a researcher named James Anderson.

Miller complains he "can't get Anderson to shut up" about the case, but he's been doing plenty of talking himself. Miller initially described Bishop as a paranoid schizophrenic, but he later retracted the remarks. He blames Amy Bishop's behavior on her anger at being denied tenure, saying that "the Harvard mentality" made it just too hard for her to bear this sort of failure.

James Anderson blames the tenure system too. He says his wife was worried about ending up like Douglas C. Prasher, a Huntsville biochemist who helped colleagues win a Nobel Prize but ended up driving a shuttle bus after losing out on a grant.

Authorities don't share Miller and Anderson's sympathy. Madison Country District Attorney Rob Broussard may ask for the death penalty. Bishop is charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder; a conviction would mean life in prison without parole, or death.

The trial will no doubt reveal new twists to Amy Bishop's disturbing story.