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Inquest Begins Into 1986 Bishop Shooting

The first day of a closed-door inquest into the controversial 1986 Braintree shooting death of Seth Bishop by his sister, Amy, has wrapped up in Quincy.

A prosecutor says 10 witnesses were heard Tuesday and the closed-door proceedings are expected to finish Thursday. Eight witnesses will be heard Wednesday and another on Thursday.

Among those who appeared were Bishop's parents and retired Braintree police officers who responded to the shooting.

The Braintree shooting — which was ruled accidental at the time — was brought back to attention after Bishop, a college professor, allegedly shot and killed three of her colleagues at the University of Alabama Huntsville in February.

The recent scrutiny has since highlighted numerous discrepancies between state and local police reports and raised questions about the handling of the Braintree case.

Recently released information suggests that prosecutors in the 1986 case were never given a full account of that shooting, including Bishop’s attempt to steal a getaway car by threatening to shoot workers at a nearby auto body shop.

Tom Pettigrew, who was one of the auto mechanics threatened by Bishop, appeared at the inquest Tuesday, but did not testify. He recalled the incident, saying that Bishop told him she had just had a fight with her husband.

"I have some experience with hunting, with my uncle, and I knew that she knew how to use the gun," Pettigrew said. "She was more, like, hyper-aware. If a bird flew by, she'd look up at it."

The only charge that could be brought against Bishop at this point would be murder, as all other crimes — including manslaughter and weapons possession — have run through their statutes of limitations.

Speaking to WBUR on Tuesday, Bridgewater State College Criminal Justice Professor Mitch Librett said the murder charges against Bishop could very well come out of the inquest.

“What they did say at the time, in my opinion, was more than adequate to obtain an indictment,” Librett said. “It was just you were getting all of these police officers acting independently of one another.”

Judge Mark Coven, the presiding judge at Quincy District Court, conducted the inquest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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This program aired on April 13, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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