Having been fired from her teaching post at the University of Alabama within hours of executing her colleagues in room 369 on the Huntsville campus, Amy Bishop lost not only her freedom on February 12th 2010, but her livelihood as well.
Bishop was the sole breadwinner of her household up until that time, and, faced then with defending herself in an Alabama courtroom against capital murder charges, she had no choice but to proceed as an indigent. Or, to put it in plain English, by filing for the benefits of poor person status.
Naturally, her defense team is not claiming Bishop’s innocence in the Huntsville Massacre. It is, after all, not exactly a whodunit—she was caught red handed—but rather a why and what for case. Was it an isolated act of revenge from having been denied tenure a few months prior, or is the defendant just a crazed killer who doesn’t know right from wrong?
With evidence subsequently having bubbled to the surface concerning other criminal deeds deeply hidden in Bishop’s past, including the murder of her own brother in 1986, her lawyers are contending it’s the latter, and are pleading the insanity defense on their client’s behalf. That means, even though the woman’s guilty as sin, a jury verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” will spare Amy Bishop from a death sentence.
Insanity is not a medical term, of course, but a legal one, so it does require expert testimony to support such a pleading. And that’s not going to be cheap…
Although legal analysts have doubted from the start that this matter will ever actually go to trial, the costs of obtaining expert medical testimony is the crux of the issue presently at debate. And because, so far, the defense team has yet to find a reputable and affordable psychiatrist willing to uphold their own inexpert evaluation that Bishop is “a wacko” it’s the very reason why they’re deliberately procrastinating.
Bishop’s trial for mass murder was initially scheduled to begin on March 19th 2012, but then, on a motion filed by her attorneys, it was pushed way back to September 10th., presumably to allow more time for psychological testing, if it can be had for nothing.
As of the last week in July 2012, Team Bishop has once more succeeded in having the case postponed. This time it’s not quite the lengthy extension begged for and expected, but, still, those eager for the Bishop trial to get underway—such as her victims—will now have to wait until nearly the end of September for this, while her wily attorneys and the court itself can wrangle over who will pay the legal costs of her insanity defense, and when.
John Carroll, a former federal judge and current dean of the Cumberland School of Law warns, if the matter concerning Bishop’s alleged “entitlement” to a cost-free expert witness is not resolved in her favor and she’s actually sentenced to death, it’ll pave a clear path for mountains of appeals.
Justice delayed, justice denied.
Read more about this upcoming true crime report 'THE BUTCHER OF BRAINTREE'