HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Alabama university professor charged with fatally shooting three colleagues is remorseful but does not recall the shooting, her defense attorney said Friday.
Roy W. Miller said Amy Bishop, 44, is likely insane and does not remember pulling out a handgun and shooting six colleagues, three fatally, at a biology department faculty meeting one week ago at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
"She just doesn't remember shooting these folks," he said.
But he said she is now "aware of what she's done. She's very sorry for it."
He said he has not spoken with her about where she got the gun. Police have said it was not registered to her, and her husband has said he does not know where she got it.
Miller said Bishop breaks down and cries, wanting to see her four children, but is trying to remain strong. Despite facing a possible death sentence, she is still concerned about her professional life and her position at the university.
"She said, 'Do I still have a job out there?' She asked me that yesterday," Miller said. "She said, 'Do you know if I have a job? I assume they fired me. Did they fire me?"'
University officials have said she remains on the payroll, but her $83,000-a-year job was ending at the end of the semester because she was denied tenure.
Bishop is charged with capital murder and attempted murder and is being held without bond.
Miller told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that Bishop has severe mental problems and appears to be paranoid schizophrenia.
He said Bishop's failure to get tenure at the university was likely a key to the shootings. Bishop, who has a doctorate from Harvard University and has taught at University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2003, apparently was incensed that a lesser-known school rejected her for what amounted to a lifetime job.
"Obviously she was very distraught and concerned over that tenure," Miller said. "It insulted her and slapped her in the face, and it's probably tied in with the Harvard mentality. She brooded and brooded and brooded over it, and then, 'bingo."'
Bishop's husband, James Anderson, told ABC's "Good Morning America" he also thought the failed tenure battle was involved.
"Only someone who has been intricately involved with that fight understands what a tough, long, hard battle (it is). ... That I would say is part of the problem, is a factor," he said in an interview aired Friday.
Anderson said his wife had never taken any anger management courses, even though prosecutors asked for that when she was charged with starting a fight over a booster seat at a restaurant in 2002. Anderson told ABC he didn't think she needed the course. Bishop admitted to the assault in court, and the charges were dismissed six months later.
Miller said Bishop seems "very cogent" in jail, where he has spent more than three hours with her over two days, yet she also seems to realize she has a loose grip on reality.
"She gets at issue with people that she doesn't need to and obsesses on it," Miller said. "She won't shake it off, and it's really (things of) no great consequence."
Bishop, who claims an IQ of 180, can't explain the shooting and doesn't remember anything about it, he said.
The chief prosecutor in Huntsville said he would not oppose a mental evaluation for Bishop.
"In this case as in all cases, if they want to start talking about a mental defense, then have at it. We'll be ready when it comes to court," said Madison County District Attorney Robert Broussard.
Miller said he expects prosecutors to seek the death penalty, but Broussard said his office hasn't decided whether to seek Bishop's execution or a sentence of life without parole if she is convicted.
"We'll wait until we have every piece of evidence in front of us to decide on that," Broussard said. He said investigators had yet to review evidence about Bishop's troubled past, including her fatal shooting of her younger brother in 1986. Authorities in Massachusetts ruled that shooting accidental, though State Police officials said Friday they will review their agency's investigation.
Since the Alabama shootings, there have been questions about why Bishop did not face any charges a quarter-century ago after she fled the house after killing her brother and allegedly pointed the gun at people at a nearby car dealership.
In Bishop's only public comments since the Alabama shooting, the professor said they "didn't happen. There's no way."
"What about the people who died?" a reporter asked as she was led to a police car hours after the killings.
"There's no way. They're still alive," she responded.
The shooting decimated the biology department — of 14 members, six were killed or wounded, one is jailed, and the rest are dealing with the shock and loss of colleagues. Two of those shot remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday, while another who was shot in the chest has been released.
Mourners hugged and cried Thursday at a memorial service for biology department chairman Gopi K. Podila. Funeral services are scheduled Friday for Adriel Johnson and Saturday for Maria Ragland Davis, professors in the department who died in the gunfire.