May 25th, 2010
11:08 PM ET

Judge completes inquest into death of Amy Bishop's brother

A Massachusetts judge has finalized an inquest into the shooting death of the brother of Amy Bishop, the former Alabama university professor accused of killing three colleagues.

Authorities in Braintree, Massachusetts, ruled Seth Bishop's 1986 death an accident after interviewing his parents and older sister. Then 20, Amy Bishop told investigators that she was asking her brother how to unload bullets from her father's shotgun when it accidentally discharged, shooting him in the chest in her parents' kitchen.

His death came under renewed scrutiny after Amy Bishop was arrested in February in a shooting rampage at a biology faculty meeting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, leading Norfolk District Attorney William Keating to call for the closed-door hearing.

The triple slaying prompted authorities in Braintree to locate missing investigative reports related to his death.

The judge presiding over the inquest heard from 19 witnesses over three days, the Boston Globe reported, including several police officers who worked the case. Outside the courthouse, one of the officers told reporters that he believed the investigation was not handled properly and that Amy Bishop should have been charged.

Under Massachusetts law, inquests are invoked in cases of suspicious deaths so a judge can gather facts to determine the "material circumstances attending the death" and whether an "unlawful act or negligence" of someone else contributed to it. In a report on his findings, the judge can recommend charges to the district attorney, who can present the report to a grand jury to seek an indictment.

District Court Judge Mark Coven's report on the inquest was finalized Tuesday and submitted to Norfolk Superior Court, court spokeswoman Joan Kenney said. The report and documents related to the inquest will be impounded until the conclusion of the case, which could be the end of a trial or the district attorney's decision to not lay charges, according to Massachusetts law.

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. sourtoe

    It is my opinion that Amy Bishop has other skelton's in her closet that will come out.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    The Prof murdered her brother, and the mother and older sister know it. The prof's parents lied for her back then, and are continuing to do so now. The prof argued with her brother. SHe loaded the shotgun upstairs, put on a jacket, came down, and blew her brother's chest out in front of the mother. She then ran from the scene into a auto mechanic garage, holding those employees at gunpoint and demanding keys and a car. She got away with murder then, and now she again blew away the faculty members who wanted rid of her. She is a freak, and her fellow prof's didn't want to work with her. She murdered them. She needs the electric chair for what she has done.

    May 27, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl

      What makes you judge and jury? Where you there?

      May 27, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Reading

      Robert ~ Excellent summary. You are right on target!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bbrobb

      He wasn't at Auschwitz either, but he knows Jews were murdered. Wake up!

      May 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      And you know this how Robert? Oh that's right, speculation and conjecture. That's what's wonderful about our country. People making snap decisions based on incomplete information.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • LisaJeane

      I agree! I wouldn't want to work with that sad sack, homely wacko either! If her arguements end up with shootings, the part leading up to them can't be too pleasant either. I say she killed her brother on purpose.

      May 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Navyboy

      I seem to remember there was a police report of her actions after the had "accidently" shot her brother. Most innocent people don't run and hold people at gun point then ask for a "get away car".
      You can call that speculation, conjecture, what have you. However innocent people don't act that way. She got away with this the first time because her mother lied for her. The incident at I-hop, she got out of because she was a PHd.
      This woman has proven her self un-stable.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • JIM

      Well said. You are exactly right. It's so obvious.

      May 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. giambo

    wow Robert you sure seem to know her whole story...maybe you can be on the jury......heck maybe save us some money, to hear you tell why even bother with a trail ?

    May 27, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Navyboy

      I think Robert is looking at the police reports on this woman. If you read the incident reports on each of her confrontations, you will see a pattern.
      You seen to feel Robert is wrong in his assessment. I ask you this, would you feel safe interacting with this woman face to face?
      I know I wouldn't.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward

      Al Capone was never convicted of murder. However I am willing to bet that few would argue he was guilty of nothing more than income tax evasion.

      May 31, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Janette

    I think she needs to pay for what she's done.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Manny HM

    Robert is expressing his opinion in the clearest possible language. A balance was offered by Cheryl and giambo.
    Well, I think Robert is right. The death of Amy Bishop's brother deserves the utmost scrutiny, not just whether this is a homicide, intentional or accidental but how the investigative process was carried out, too fast, too shallow, and almost dismissive. Death penalty for Amy ? Absolutely NOT ! She can be a very good subject for studying Impulse Control Disorder using functional MRI. She should be in the same prison as that doctors in Fort Hood and another doctor, a Dr. Wang. No torture please. Of course, they should be in prison like any other prisoner.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brian

    This is the perfect death penalty case. Focusing on her current murder charge – killing three fellow professors. There were miltiple eye witnesses in the room who knew her personally (not some sketchy recollection of an unknown assailant). Assuming that the "insanity defense" will fail and she is convicted of the premeditated triple homicide, there are no legitimate reasons for appeal. With that, she should be executed within a year of her conviction. I don't advocate this in all death penalty cases but there needs to be some constaint on all the mandatory "gang plank" appeals that clog the system. This is what causes both the lack of deterence (20 years on death row) and the "it costs more to put someone to death that to give them life without parole" problem we have now. I think at least some criminals considering murdering somebody would think twice knowing that they could be executed within a year of committing the crime.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hank Shrier


      Read the book "An Innocent Man" By John Gresham. This is NOT a work of fiction but a true story of a DA who intentionally sent people he KNEW were innocent to Death Row. Many people have been exonerated after many years on Death Row. There is no proof that the Death Penalty acts as a deterrent. Life without Parole serves to protect the public from the Killers. As long as human beings are involved in the process, mistakes will be made.

      While there are certainly killers who don't deserve to live, and our desire for revenge is understandable, we do ourselves a disservice to suggest that the Death Penalty is anything more than collective revenge.

      May 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • To Hank

      The recidivism rate for murderers who are put to death is zero.

      May 31, 2010 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Navyboy

      My dear Hank, The gun was found with her finger prints on it. She had GSR (gun shot residue) on her hands. There was half a dozen witnesses to the crime. I'm not saying this is a slam dunk case, but you can't think she will be wrongfully sentenced?!
      Her past confrontations only emphasize her current actions.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    I have said this before on here and I will say it again. We are much to lenient on women criminals in the US. Women have consistently asked for equal rights, which they derserve, but when it comes to crime, they often get plea deals and lesser sentences than male offenders. I am also sick of insanity defenses. I am pretty sure all murderers are insane, but that's no reason to let them go or put them in a hospital. I think it's pretty clear this lady killed her bro. You people on here who say "you should just be judge, jury and blah blah" are just being contrarians and really have no valid points or opinions.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deborah Marion

      Dave, your last statement makes my point for me. You should absolutely never be a judge or serve on a jury. Your mind is so full of your on opinions you could never hear another point of view.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grundoon

      Dave, you are full of it. Women typically get harsher sentaces because girl shoudl be doign bad things. The reserach is out there, go get it. A guy can abuse his wife for years and when he finally kills her he'll spend less than 5 years in prison. A woman who is abused for years and rather than being killed herself she kills him as a matter of survival knowing that at any moment he may kill her, especially if she tries to leave him, gets life. Pray tell, how is that lenient

      May 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnnysnot

      Site your source. When you here of cases like that of Mary Winkler, who for the killing of here husband, without any previous reports of abuse, and with only her testimony as evidence, received 210 day sentence. With the 5 months in pretrial jail that meant only 60 days, then probation. Don't be calling people full of it. If you wiki Mary Winkler you see a comment about the typical sentence for abused women is manslaughter. Mary wasn't even physical abused (i.e. beaten) !!!

      This Prof Amy Bishop could say she suffers from Menstrual Psychosis, and so was temporarily insane at the time of the murders. With a defense like that she might get off with a minimal sentence in a hospital. Sometimes the justice system really does seems bias towards believing women.

      May 31, 2010 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jake Malone

    "Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier said that a "higher-up" ended the 1986 investigation over the objections of local officers. But Keating charges that local police didn't inform the State Police (who routinely handle wrongful deaths in smaller cities like Braintree) that Amy Bishop had left the house still armed and then demanded getaway car. Keating also chided local police for waiting 11 days to interview Bishop or her mother."

    May 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HorseHooves

    Cheryl (et. al.)- While rushing to judgment is rarely prudent, what's wrong with frying her now? We can debate her innocence later. Anyway, in the meantime she is one serious sicko that has been allowed to roam too long too far.

    May 27, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ragingbear

    I said it before, I`ll say it again.....accident? Not hardly. Look at her, she`s a petulant little girl in a woman`s body. She shot her brother and she shot and killed the others...... A 50 cent bullet will solve ALL her problems...placed between her eyes. (By the way, you don`t unload BULLETS from a shot gun, you unload SHELLS from a shot gun.....get it right CNN!)

    May 28, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Goyta love our News Media, they'll tell us exactly how the Terrorist's bomb was built and why it failed, and what he should've done to make sure it went off, effectively telling the viewing audience how to build and denotate a bomb. But inform the public about a type of gun? NEVER! But, yeah, CNN, shotgun ammunition is commonly called a 'shell' I'd even except "how to remove rounds from her father's shotgun"

      But I'm completely off topic. I seriously doubt her brother's death was an accident, but it could have been what is known as a 'triggering incident' It may have been an accident, and may lead to attack on her co-workers. Either way, she needs supervised mental health care for the rest of her natural days.

      May 28, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mrs. Dalloway

    If the Braintree, MA police had done their job in the first place, these last three death might not have occurred. This woman's mother worked for the police department which found the brother's death "accidental". So she learned that she can kill with impunity.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. ann

    The woman even looks evil....sad. She needs to be in prison and needs help

    May 28, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. Misha

    You really think you can tell her guilt from this picture? That kind of thinking takes away from the gravity of the situation. But I digress, as a fromer Braintree resident, I find it especially disconcerting that the BPD never formally charged her based on the evidence. She should at least have been charged and had her day in court and let the jury decide her fate. I understand wanting to protect your only living child, but her mom was deceiving herself ... and three more people paid the price.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Manny HM

      The investigators there in Braintree need to be investigated more than Amy. This is the same situation wherein the SEC needs to be investigated more than Bernie Madoff ! Crimes like that are as obvious as a burning building, the question is why did the smoke detector did not produce a sound and why did the fire trucks did not respond. The good thing here – Things will get better because it has to.

      May 29, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Navyboy

      I don't know about telling guilt from a photo, but she does look nuts.

      May 31, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. De

    I think the brother's death ought to be looked at, especially look at what happened in the investigation because if the investigation wasn't done right then somebody in charge of that investigation should be held to account and answer for it. If that investigation was botched, whether intentionally or recklessly, that conduct has now cost more lives and people killed in the college massacre could have been saved if the professor had not been a professor but a prisoner behind bars. If that is the case, then somebody other than the shooter needs to maybe face some charges. I really get tired of people saying we have to give law enforcement a break because their job is really stressful and they work so hard, etc. Bad police work can result in terrible harm. They are public servants who are trained with tax payer dollars, and regardless of what the findings turn out to be they need to be made public. The public deserves to know, including but not limited to the survivors of those killed at the college.

    May 30, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • SATC2

      Bravo! On your comments about police protecting lives and putting themselves out there but then not being held liable/responsible when they are negligent or poor performance and other lives are lost as a result! Although it seems the decision has been made by a judge in the case of Amy and her brother, your overall message is correct!

      May 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. frank

    What a bunch of retarded thinking: she "looks evil", others telling how she killed the brother as if it is fact, "fry" her now, detailed blow-by-blow how the brother was shot.
    Look, the incident with the brother was investigated TWICE. But average joe online posters know investigative work better? I suppose we should just get rid of trials and courts, just let random online posters decide just what really happened, how it really is and go from there? Christ! People just get more stupid and arrogant as time goes on!

    May 31, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
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