Professor gets life for uni rampage

A Harvard-educated biologist who went on a shooting rampage at an Alabama university, killing three colleagues and wounding three others, was jailed for life without parole.

The jury deliberated for about 20 minutes before convicting Amy Bishop. The former professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville showed no reaction as the verdict was read.

She did not speak in court, but her lawyer Roy Miller said she had often expressed great remorse to the victims and their families. "She is shattered beyond belief," he said.

Bishop avoided a death sentence by pleading guilty earlier this month to the shootings on February 12 2010. Before the guilty plea, her lawyers had said they planned to use an insanity defence but she was still required to have a brief trial because she admitted a capital murder charge.

Bishop still could face a trial in Massachusetts, where she is charged over the 1986 killing of her 18-year-old brother. Seth Bishop's death had been ruled an accident after his sister told investigators she shot him in the family's Braintree home as she tried to unload her father's gun. But the Alabama shootings prompted a new investigation and charges.

Prosecutors had said they would wait until after sentencing in the Alabama case to determine whether to put Bishop on trial in Massachusetts.

In the university rampage Bishop killed her boss, biology department chairman Gopi Padila and professors Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. Professors Joseph Leahy, staff aide Stephanie Monticciolo and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were wounded.

Prof Leahy said he was satisfied with the verdict and life sentence, but no amount of remorse by Bishop could change what she had done. "She has just sort of ceased to exist for me," he said after the brief trial.

A police investigator told the court Bishop denied having anything to do with the rampage. During the hearing she shook her head whenever the judge or prosecutors described the killings as intentional. District attorney Rob Broussard said Bishop's reaction in court did not make sense. "You can't take a loaded 9mm and hold it inches away from human beings' heads and tell me you didn't mean to do that," he said.

Investigator Charlie Gray said police believe Bishop opened fire during a staff meeting because she was angry over being denied tenure, which effectively ended her career at the University of Alabama.