Former university professor gets life in prison for shooting rampage
A former college professor was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday for a 2010 shooting attack that killed three of her colleagues and wounded three others.
The Associated Press reported that Amy Bishop avoided the death penalty after pleading guilty earlier this month to three counts of attempted murder and one count of capital murder, a charge typically used in multiple homicide cases, for the crimes at the University of Alabama-Huntsville in February 2010.
Because she admitted to committing a capital offense, state law called for a brief trial to be held Monday before her sentencing, with testimony from two witnesses, including former colleague Debra Moriarity.
Moriarity, currently the chairperson for the university’s biological sciences department, recounted Bishop’s attack, which authorities think was motivated by Bishop’s anger over being refused tenure, which ended her career at the school.
“I was saying, ‘Stop Amy, stop. Don’t do this,'” Moriarity told Circuit Judge Alan Mann. “‘I’ve helped you before, I’ll help you again.'”
Moriarty said Bishop also tried to shoot her only to have the gun jam.
Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard told The Huntsville Times he allowed Bishop to plead guilty after finding out some of the victims’ families did not support the death penalty. To ignore their sentiments, he said, would “probably be the ultimate arrogance” on his part.
He did note that, when one considers both the severity of the crime and the defendant’s history, he thought pursuing the death penalty would be warranted in a case of this nature.
“But if you look at the folks who had the most at stake, who have lost the most, and victims’ families, for me to disregard those feelings and forge ahead, I would be ashamed,” Broussard said.
Bishop’s attack went on to be the subject of an article in Wired Magazine last year that delved into her personal history, including the fatal shooting of her 18-year-old brother Seth in Massachusetts in 1986.
“By the time Seth was pronounced dead, at 3:08 pm, Amy was long gone,” Amy Wallace wrote. “She had run out of the house and headed to a nearby Ford dealership, where she encountered two employees. Pointing the gun at them, she demanded a car and a set of keys, but when they hesitated, she left. One of the men would later say she claimed she’d gotten into a fight with her husband, who was going to kill her.”
Though Seth Bishop’s death had been ruled accidental, the AP reported that Amy Bishop could still face a trial in Massachusetts. Prosecutors said they would not decide on whether to pursue charges against her until after her sentencing in Alabama.
WAFB-TV posted raw footage Monday from Bishop-Anderson’s shooting, which can be seen below.