Police: Ex-professor in Alabama university shooting deaths denied killing anyone

By Desiree Hunter, AP
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Police: Ala campus shooting suspect denied role

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A professor whose past legal troubles in New England are under renewed scrutiny used a gun bought in New Hampshire when she shot six colleagues, three fatally, at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, an investigator testified Tuesday.

The Huntsville police investigator also told a judge that Amy Bishop denied to officers that she had anything to do with the rampage at a biology department faculty meeting Feb. 12.

Bishop, making her first court appearance, was denied bond during a brief hearing. The capital murder case against her was sent to a grand jury, which is not expected to hear it for several months.

Looking gaunt and wearing a red jail jump suit, the handcuffed Bishop made no comment during the proceeding.

The Harvard-educated biologist, who is listed as 44 on school records, was arrested shortly after the shooting. The gun was found in a bathroom trash can a floor below the faculty conference room, with Bishop’s bloodied red-and-black plaid coat on top of it, according to testimony.

During the hearing, Huntsville police investigator Charlie Gray testified that the gun used in the shooting was purchased in 1989 for Bishop’s husband, James Anderson, by a man in New Hampshire identified as Donald Proulx. He said Proulx told federal agents that he believed he purchased it in Troy, N.H.

Gray said Proulx told federal agents Anderson, who was living in Massachusetts, asked him to buy the gun because Anderson was having problems with a neighbor and New Hampshire didn’t have a waiting period for gun purchases.

Anderson was not in the courtroom for the hearing. He previously told The Associated Press that he knew about the gun and joined Bishop in target practice.

Anderson declined to comment when reached at the family’s home Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m not making any statements at this time. I’m sorry,” he said.

Gray testified that Bishop, during a taped interview that lasted more than two hours, was not agitated but “seemed calm, she seemed very intelligent” as she denied anything to do with the shooting.

“She said it was no way she was there, no way it happened. ‘I wasn’t there.’ That kept being a reoccurring thing throughout the interview,” Gray said.

Bishop, wearing white socks and flip-flops with a thick chain around both ankles, appeared to be paying attention to the proceedings Tuesday but was mostly expressionless. She at times fidgeted with her hands and tapped her leg. Sometimes she whispered answers to questions from her attorney, Roy Miller.

Bishop is charged with capital murder, which can bring the death penalty if convicted, although prosecutors have not made a decision on whether they will seek a death penalty.

Miller has said he will argue that Bishop was insane. He has told reporters she has shown signs of being unable to relate to reality.

District Judge Ruth Ann Hall issued a gag order last week for the prosecution, defense and law enforcement personnel, barring them from talking to the media. Hall says the order will ensure a fair trial.

At the time of the shooting, Bishop was in her last semester of teaching at UAH, which had denied her the job protections of tenure. Colleagues said she was angry over the tenure decision. The university fired her after the rampage.

Gray testified that Anderson told police his wife “had been a little depressed over tenure” but appeared normal on the day of the shooting.

Gray’s testimony echoed the accounts given by faculty members who survived the sudden gunfire. They had said that the shooting stopped and biochemistry professor Debra Moriarity scrambled toward Bishop, who attempted to shoot her but without the gun going off. With Bishop out of the room, survivors barricaded the door.

Gray said the gun recovered in the bathroom trash can had jammed with seven live rounds in it. A black satchel that belonged to Bishop was also found in the conference room, containing another 15-round magazine, he said.

Bishop’s arrest after the Alabama shooting led to revelations about her role in other cases, including shooting her 18-year-old brother to death in the family’s suburban Boston home in 1986. That death was ruled an accident at the time and she was not charged, but authorities in Massachusetts have ordered an inquest into the case.

Bishop and her husband were also questioned in the 1993 mailing of a pipe bomb to a medical researcher who had given her a negative job review. They were never charged, but the U.S. attorney in Boston is reviewing the matter.

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