Two and a half years ago, biology professor Amy Bishop who studied on nitric oxide’s effect on motor neurons opened fire on a group of University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) colleagues, killing three—department chairman Gopi Padila and professors Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson—and wounding three others. Yesterday, Bishop pled guilty to one count of capital murder. This is a change from her earlier plea of not guilty, which rested on her lawyers’ plan to use the insanity defense.
"I'm certainly happy that she is going to be held accountable," Lynn Boyd, a UAH professor who was in the room when the shootings occurred, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. "The stress of wondering whether she was going to get away with it is now gone."
Though it’s unclear what motivated Bishop’s violence spree, people who knew her noted her anger after the University refused her tenure, which would have effectively ended her employment, Daily News reported. Unless a plea agreement is reached in the next two weeks, a brief trial will be held before Madison County Circuit Judge Alan Mann on September 24, followed by sentencing, at which time prosecutors say they will recommend life without parole for the murder charge, in addition to three life sentences for three counts of attempted murder.
The Alabama shootings have also prompted officials to reopen the case of her brother’s murder in 1986, which was ruled an accident at the time. Bishop had told police that she had been trying to unload her father’s gun when it went off and killed her brother, Seth Bishop, who was 18 years old at the time. But prosecutors in the new trial uncovered police reports that recounted how Bishop had tried to commandeer a getaway car at gunpoint and refused to immediately surrender to police. Bishop now faces a murder charge for that shooting, and according to Bishop’s lawyer for that case, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey will decide whether or not she will face trial.