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Alabama ex-professor Amy Bishop gets life for killing 3 colleagues

September 24, 2012|By David Zucchino
  • Amy Bishop, accused of killing three and injuring three others in a Feb. 12, 2010 shooting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, walks into a courtroom at the Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville.
Amy Bishop, accused of killing three and injuring three others in a Feb.… (Eric Schultz / The Huntsville…)

Jurors in Alabama deliberated for just 20 minutes Monday before convicting a former college professor of killing three fellow professors during a campus shooting rampage in 2010. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated biologist, was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Bishop had pleaded guilty to killing three people and wounding three others, but Alabama law required that she stand trial because she had admitted to a capital charge. Her guilty plea allowed her to avoid the death penalty.

Before the verdict, family members of the victims and two survivors of the shootings stood across the courtroom from the defendant. But Bishop refused to look at them. She looked instead toward prospective jurors and showed no emotion, the Huntsville Times reported.

Bishop did not react when the jury announced its verdict, but her lawyer said she has expressed remorse.

"She is shattered beyond belief,’’ said defense attorney Roy Miller.

At the brief trial Monday, police investigator Charlie Gray testified that Bishop denied any involvement in the shootings during a Feb. 12, 2010, faculty meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In court, Bishop shook her head any time the judge or prosecutors described the killings as intentional, the Associated Press reported.

Gray said police concluded that Bishop opened fire because she had been denied tenure, effectively ending her career at the school.

Debra Moriarity, a professor, testified that Bishop had sat silently through the hourlong faculty meeting. Suddenly, Moriarity said, she heard a loud bang.

She saw Bishop shoot a professor, Maria Ragland Davis. Then Bishop pointed the gun at her, Moriarity testified.

"I was saying, 'Stop, Amy, stop,’’’ Moriarity said. "Don’t do this. I’ve helped you before. I’ll help you again.’’

Bishop pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire, she testified.

In court, Bishop was dressed in a red prison uniform with her feet shackled. She was convicted of killing professors Davis, Gopi Podila and Adriel Johnson, and wounding three other people.

Bishop also faces a possible trial in her native Massachusetts, where she has been charged with killing her 18-year-old brother in 1986. Bishop told police she accidentally shot Seth Bishop as she was unloading their father’s gun.

The Alabama shootings promoted a new investigation into the Massachusetts case. Authorities in Massachusetts had said they would wait until Bishop is sentenced in Alabama to decide whether to try her.

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david.zucchino@latimes.com

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