The criminal investigation ongoing, more details have emerged since Professor Amy Bishop was arrested for allegedly gunning down six fellow faculty members at the University of Alabama in Huntsville on February 12, 2010.
In 1986 while a student in Boston at Northeastern University, Amy Bishop was investigated by the Boston Police Department for shooting and killing her brother with a shotgun after a family argument. Boston Police and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office did not charge her with a crime, and it is reported that the shooting was never completely investigated by the police. Amy Bishop and her family claimed the shooting was an accident, and it is believed that the Boston Police accepted that version.
In 2002, Amy Bishop was also criminally charged with Assault after allegedly punching a woman at an IHOP because the woman had taken the last child’s seat. Reports indicate that Amy Bishop received a sentence of Probation and the charges were later dismissed.
Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis reflects on this story:
From what I have read about the Amy Bishop saga, it clearly appears to me that this woman has had some mental health issues. Her reputation as reported from those that were familiar with her, including family and friends, indicate severe anger management issues, as well as very bizarre and anti-social behavior. For example, the same day she allegedly shot and killed her brother, it is believed that Amy Bishop ran into the street with the shotgun and demanded a car at a nearby auto dealership.
As a criminal defense lawyer, having Amy Bishop psychiatrically evaluated would be one of the first tasks I would undertake in evaluating her defense. Based on what I have read about this case, an insanity defense is very likely to be central to the defense team at her criminal trial.
In Massachusetts, an Insanity Defense, or more properly termed, a Defense of Lack of Criminal Responsibility, is raised after the prosecutor has presented its case and if they have proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did commit the crime charged. Only then does the jury go on to consider the issue of criminal responsibility.
The prosecutor then has an additional burden of proof. The prosecutor must not only prove that the defendant committed the crime charged, but must then also prove to the jury that the defendant was criminally responsible on the date of the crime – and not ‘insane.’ In other words, that the defendant was criminally responsible at the time of the incident. This further burden by the prosecutor, must also be proved ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’
Massachusetts criminal law states that a person is not criminally responsible for his/her conduct if that person suffers from a mental disease or defect, and as a result of that mental disease or defect, thereby lacks substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality or wrongfulness of his/her conduct, or to conform his/her conduct to the requirements of the law.
Read more on the story this blog was based on by Shaila Dewan, Stephanie Saul and Katie Zezima of the New York Times.
When someone is under investigation for any criminal charges, or has been arrested for a criminal offense, it is critical that they immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer so that their rights are protected. If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a crime, criminal defense lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7, and readily accessible via e-mail or by phone at 617-325-9500.