Alabama professor stands trial in deaths of three co-workers

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 24, 2012 12:46 PM
Alabama professor stands trial in deaths of three co-workers

By Verna Gates

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) - A former Alabama biology professor who pleaded guilty to killing three colleagues and wounding others in a 2010 shooting rampage will stand trial this week to determine her prison term.

Jury selection began on Monday for former University of Alabama at Huntsville professor Amy Bishop's abbreviated trial for murder and attempted murder. As part of a plea earlier this month, Bishop no longer faces the death penalty, Circuit Judge Alan Mann told prospective jurors.

However, Alabama law requires a jury to decide the punishment for a capital murder charge. Prosecutors are recommending Bishop, a 47-year-old Harvard-trained biologist and mother of four, serve life in prison without parole.

Bishop, who looked thin sitting in a red inmate jumpsuit and shackles in court on Monday, was accused of gunning down her colleagues execution-style during a biology department staff meeting on the Huntsville campus in February 2010.

Three co-workers died, including the department chairman, and three others were wounded.

Colleagues believed Bishop, who allegedly pulled the gun from her purse to start shooting, was angry that the school had denied her tenure.

After her arrest in Alabama, authorities in Braintree, Massachusetts, charged Bishop with the 1986 shooting death of her teenage brother.

That death initially had been ruled accidental, based on the testimony of the family.

Authorities in Massachusetts are awaiting the outcome of the Alabama trial before deciding how to proceed in their case against Bishop.

(Reporting by Verna Gates; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)