Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

UAH Professor Killer Amy Bishop Pleads Guilty

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The reader should understand: The cost of trying capital cases – cases in which the penalty is, or may be death – are EXCEEDINGLY more expensive than any other case, simply because of the numerous levels of mandatory appeals. Thus, by pleading guilty, and spending the rest her natural life behind bars – without the possibility of parole, and being given humane healthcare – the District Attorney, Amy Bishop and her defense attorneys have saved Madison County, Huntsville, and the State of Alabama many MILLIONS of tax dollars.

That is true, even given that she may live perhaps another 40 years – though that is highly unlikely, simply because incarceration exacts a physical toll upon a person’s life, shortening it by many years. Estimating a cost of $20,000/year (which includes the total cost of employees to guard & manage the system, cost of operations, etc.), and supposing she lives another 40 years (which is less likely, than not) the total flat-line cost would be $800,000.

A 2004 report entitled “State Prison Expenditures, 2001” by James B. Stephan, Statistician for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, of the Department of Justice, found that the cost of food and medical expenses, food service & utilities cost per prisoner in Alabama was $1776. Alabama’s Average Annual Operating Cost per prisoner was $8128 – THE lowest of 50 states. Other components of cost – employee cost, salaries, wages, benefits, supplies, maintenance, contractual services, and other aspects of facility operation, etc. – account for nearly 96% of all operating costs. According to the report, of all states, Alabama has the HIGHEST per-prisoner cost of utilities as a percentage of operating expenditure, at 5.7%. Perhaps it’s time to rethink solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy?

Sep 11, 3:15 PM EDT

Ex-prof pleads guilty to killing Ala. colleagues

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — 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.

Amy Bishop before bench 19514615_BG2

Amy Bishop pleads guilty to murder and attempted murder in Madison County.

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.


UAH shooter Amy Bishop pleads guilty to capital murder charge, avoids death penalty (updated)

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 12:20 PM     Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 2:20 PM

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Amy Bishop pleaded guilty this afternoon to capital murder charges in Madison County Circuit Courtin an agreement that will send her to prison for the rest of her life.

Amy Bishop pleads guilty walk

UAH shooter Amy Bishop heading into the courtroom to plead guilty to capital murder on Sept. 11, 2012. (The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz)

UAH shooter Amy Bishop heading into the courtroom to plead guilty to capital murder on Sept. 11, 2012. (The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz)

Bishop, 47, will not be eligible for the death penalty under the terms of the agreement.

She stood before Judge Alan Mann and entered one guilty plea to capital murder and three pleas of attempted murder.

Bishop is accused of killing three fellow biology department faculty members in an on-campus shooting rampage on Feb. 12, 2010 and wounding three others.

Prosecutors stated that Bishop’s plea confirms the facts of the case, that she stood up in a faculty meeting with a 9 mm pistol, shot and killed biology professors Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson, and Biology Department chair Gopi Podila, and shot and wounded professors Joseph Leahy and Luis Cruz-Vera, and staff assistant Stephanie Monticciolo.

She then left the scene and was captured by police trying to flee, according to prosectuors.

A Harvard-trained biologist, Bishop has four children.

Bishop was denied tenure by the university in 2009 and had exhausted the appeals process before the shooting.

Under Alabama law, a capital murder defendant who pleads guilty still must have a jury hear the evidence against them. If Bishop enters the plea, a condensed version of the case — the facts would no longer be in dispute — is expected to be held Sept. 24. Her trial was supposed to start Sept. 24.

Amy Bishop pleads guilty sit 11552418-large

Amy Bishop, accused of killing three and injuring three others at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in a courtroom at the Madison County Courthouse to plead Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in Huntsville, Ala.(The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz)

Bishop has been held in the Madison County Jail since the shooting. Madison County Circuit Judge Alan Mann is presiding over the case.

At the end of the hearing, Mann directed attorneys not discuss the case until after the trial is complete, so they could not explain how the guilty plea agreement came about.

Updated at 1:17 p.m. to reflect that the trial was to start Sept. 24.


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