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Professor accused in Alabama slayings likely insane: Lawyer

Last Updated: Friday, February 19, 2010 - 15:09

Huntsville: The lawyer for an Alabama college professor accused of killing three colleagues during a faculty meeting said on Thursday he believes the teacher is insane, and that she says she can`t remember the shootings.
Amy Bishop, who has a doctorate from Harvard University and has taught at the University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2003, has severe mental problems that appear to be paranoid schizophrenia, said Roy W Miller, her court-appointed attorney.

Miller spoke in an interview with a news agency on the same day hundreds of mourners attended the first funeral and memorial services for Bishop`s slain co-workers.

Bishop`s failure to obtain tenure at the University of Alabama in Huntsville was likely a key to the shootings last Friday, Miller said. Miller said the Harvard-educated Bishop apparently was incensed that a lesser-known school rejected her for what amounted to a lifetime job.

"Obviously she was very distraught and concerned over that tenure," Miller said. "It insulted her and slapped her in the face, and it`s probably tied in with the Harvard mentality. She brooded and brooded and brooded over it, and then, `bingo.`"

Authorities said three more people were hurt when Bishop pulled out a handgun and started shooting during a routine meeting with colleagues. Charged with capital murder and attempted murder, she is being held without bond.

Miller said Bishop seems "very cogent" in jail, where he has spent more than three hours with her over two days, yet she also seems to realise she has a loose grip on reality.

"She gets at issue with people that she doesn`t need to and obsesses on it," Miller said. "She won`t shake it off, and it`s really (things of) no great consequence."

Bishop, who claims an IQ of 180, can`t explain the shootings, he said.

"She says she does not remember anything about it," said Miller.

The chief prosecutor in Huntsville said he would not oppose a mental evaluation for Bishop, 45.

"In this case as in all cases, if they want to start talking about a mental defence, then have at it. We`ll be ready when it comes to court," said Madison County District Attorney Robert Broussard.

Miller said he expects prosecutors to seek the death penalty, but Broussard said his office hasn`t decided whether to seek Bishop`s execution or a sentence of life without parole if she is convicted.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, February 19, 2010 - 15:09

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