Ex-prof gets life in prison for meeting rampage

Associated Press Modified: September 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm •  Published: September 24, 2012
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A Harvard-educated biologist was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday after being convicted of going on a shooting rampage during a faculty meeting at an Alabama university, killing three colleagues and wounding three others in 2010.

The jury deliberated for about 20 minutes before convicting Amy Bishop. The former professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville showed no reaction as the verdict was read. She did not speak in court, but her attorney said she has often expressed great remorse for the victims and their families.

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

Bishop avoided a death sentence by pleading guilty earlier this month to the shootings on Feb. 12, 2010. Before the guilty plea — which she signed with a barely legible scrawl — her attorneys had said they planned to use an insanity defense.

However, she was still required to have a brief trial because she admitted to a capital murder charge.

And she still could face a trial in Massachusetts, where she is charged in the 1986 killing of her 18-year-old brother. Seth Bishop's death had been ruled an accident after Amy Bishop told investigators she shot him in the family's Braintree home as she tried to unload her father's gun. But the Alabama shootings prompted a new investigation and charges. David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey in Massachusetts, said Monday evening that Morrissey expects to make an announcement by the end of the week.

Bishop killed her boss, biology department chairman Gopi Padila, plus professors Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. Associate professor Joseph Leahy, staff aide Stephanie Monticciolo and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were shot and wounded.

Leahy said he was satisfied with the verdict and life sentence, but no amount of remorse by Bishop could change what she'd done.

"She has just sort of ceased to exist for me," he told reporters after the brief trial.

A police investigator testified that Bishop initially denied having anything to do with the rampage. And during the trial, Bishop shook her head anytime the judge or prosecutors described the killings as intentional.