CANTON, Mass. — Massachusetts prosecutors have withdrawn a murder charge in the 1986 death of the brother of a former Alabama professor who fatally shot three colleagues.
The announcement Friday by the Norfolk district attorney follows Amy Bishop’s sentencing this week to life in prison without parole for the killings at the University of Alabama-Huntsville in February 2010.
In a statement, the office said the life sentence they would seek in the 1986 killing of 18-year-old Seth Bishop was identical to the punishment she received in Alabama, so there was no need to move forward.
“We will not move to have her returned to Massachusetts,” District Attorney Michael Morrissey said. “The penalty we would seek for a first degree murder conviction is already in place.”
He added that his office withdrew the indictment “without prejudice,” meaning he could reinstate it if something went wrong in the Alabama sentence, though he considered that unlikely.
“In almost all cases, guilty pleas mark the end of the process and the conviction is not vulnerable to being overturned on appeal,” Morrissey said.
Authorities initially ruled Seth Bishop’s shooting accidental, based partly on claims by Bishop’s mother, who said her daughter didn’t mean to kill him while she was unloading a shotgun in the family’s kitchen.
After Bishop was arrested in the Alabama murders, Norfolk prosecutors took another look at the case and concluded that local police didn’t share important evidence, including an alleged carjacking attempt by Bishop after the shooting.
Then-district attorney William Keating, now a congressman, said he didn’t understand why charges weren’t initially filed.
“Jobs weren’t done, responsibilities weren’t met and justice wasn’t served,” he said.
Bishop’s parents said Keating’s review was biased and rooted in finger pointing between past and present police officers and prosecutors. They called it “an enormous waste of public resources.”