HUNTSVILLE Ala. – An ex-professor pleaded guilty Tuesday to fatally shooting three colleagues and wounding three others at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, court officials said.
Amy Bishop, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of capital murder involving two or more people and three counts of attempted murder. She had earlier pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity
Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against the Harvard-educated Bishop and it was not immediately clear if they would drop the penalty as part of the plea deal. Sentencing will be after arguments are heard at a hearing on Sept. 24.
Prosecutors say the former biology professor on Feb. 12, 2010, pulled a gun out of her purse and opened fire at the meeting. Her attorneys say she had mental problems.
Bishop of Huntsville also is charged with killing her brother in Massachusetts in 1986. The shooting of 18-year-old Seth Bishop had been ruled an accident after Amy Bishop told police she shot him in the family’s Braintree home as she was trying to unload her father’s gun.
But the Alabama slayings led to a new investigation and charges.
In the university shooting, police and people who knew Bishop have described her as being angry over the school’s refusal to grant her tenure, a decision that effectively would have ended her employment in the biology department at UAH.
The gunfire killed Bishop’s boss, biology department chairman Gopi Padila, plus professors Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. Professors Joseph Leahy, staff aide Stephanie Monticciolo and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were shot and wounded. Leahy has returned to teaching at the school.
After Bishop was indicted, prosecutors said Braintree police in 1986 failed to share important evidence, including the fact that Bishop, after she shot her brother in the chest, tried to commandeer a getaway car at gunpoint at a local car dealership, then refused to drop her gun until police officers ordered her to do so repeatedly. Those events were described in Braintree police reports but not in a report written by a state police detective assigned to the district attorney’s office.
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