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Biologist pleads guilty to murder

Posted on behalf of Meredith Wadman.

Amy Bishop, a biology professor who gunned down her department chairman and killed two other colleagues during a shooting spree in February 2010, pleaded guilty today in an Alabama courtroom.

The plea agreement will send Bishop, a 47-year-old biologist and mother of four, to prison for the rest of her life, but it means that she will avoid the death penalty, according to this story by Brian Lawson of the Huntsville Times.

Bishop initially pleaded not guilty, “by reason of mental disease or defect”, to murdering three colleagues during a biology faculty meeting at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. A jury trial for Bishop had been set to commence on 24 September.

Nature wrote about the aftermath of the shootings in 2010 and reported in 2011 on the biology department one year after the shootings.

On 12 February 2010, several months after she was denied tenure, Bishop used a 9-millimetre pistol to systematically murder department chairman Gopi Podila and biologists Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson as they sat gathered around a table at a faculty meeting in a tiny conference room. She also wounded colleagues Luis Cruz-Vera and Joseph Leahy, and Stephanie Monticciolo, a staff assistant. The last two were grievously injured.

Bishop’s killing of her 18-year-old brother in their home in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1986 was ruled accidental. Since the Huntsville shootings, a Massachusetts grand jury has indicted Bishop for murder in that shooting.

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