Former Professor Pleads Guilty To Killing Colleagues At Faculty Meeting

Amy Bishop, a former professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, plead guilty Tuesday to one count of capital murder involving two or more people and three counts of attempted murder. She had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

CBS reports that Bishop pulled a gun from her purse during a February 12, 2010 staff meeting and opened fire. Among those killed were biology department chairman Gopi Padila, professor Maria Ragland Davis, and professor Adriel Johnson. Professor Joseph Leahy, aide Stephanie Monticciolo, and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were shot and wounded in the attack. Bishop was apparently upset that the university had failed to grant her tenure, though her lawyers have also claimed she had mental problems.

The Boston Herald reports that prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty for Bishop prior to the plea deal but that may have changed with the plea, noting that it is common procedure in such cases. Sentencing will be after a September 24 before Madison County Circuit Judge Alan Mann in Huntsville.

Debra Moriarity, who was in the faculty meeting at the time of the shooting and is now biology chairman at the school, was not surprised to hear a plea deal was reached, having known it was a possibility.

“So I’m not totally surprised by it, but I am surprised it happened this soon,” she said.

Bishop is now also charged in the murder of her brother, Seth Bishop, in 1986. Initially, the 18-year-old’s death was ruled an accident when Amy Bishop claimed her father’s gun went off while she was unloading it. After the shootings in 2010, an investigation was opened however and charges filed against Amy Bishop.