Saying he had questions about the original investigation, Norfolk County District Attorney William R. Keating today initiated an inquest into the death of Seth Bishop, who was killed by his sister, Amy, in 1986 in Braintree
The incident, which was ruled an accident at the time, has been under scrutiny since Amy Bishop allegedly went on a shooting rampage on Feb. 12 at the University of Alabama Huntsville.
Keating said at a news conference this afternoon that he had filed a request for the inquest today at Quincy District Court.
He said he was seeking the inquest because, in his review of the handling of the case, he was not getting cooperation from Bishop's parents, Judith and Samuel Bishop.
"They have refused ... to speak to investigators," Keating said.
Keating also said there were inconsistencies in the police reports, including two different accounts of Seth Bishop's body position when he was found, with one saying he was face-up and another saying he was face-down.
And he said that a crime scene photo from that era showed that next to the rifle shells found in Amy Bishop's bedroom, there was a newspaper with an article that chronicled a similar attack to the one she allegedly committed.
Keating said he questioned whether the shooting was truly accidental, and he added that an inquest could lead to a homicide charge against Amy Bishop.
Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated professor who had been denied tenure at the Alabama university, is accused of shooting six of her colleagues at a faculty meeting, three of them fatally. New revelations began emerging almost immediately about her past in Massachusetts.
Bishop, it turned out, had fatally shot her brother on Dec. 6, 1986. While the shooting had been ruled an accident in 1987, the current Braintree police chief immediately raised questions abut the handling of the case, which has prompted reviews by the State Police and Keating's office.
Bishop and her husband were also questioned in the 1993 attempted mail bombing of a Harvard Medical School professor. No charges were filed. The US attorney in Boston says her office will be reviewing the handling of that case.
Bishop also was allegedly involved in an altercation at a Peabody pancake house in 2002 that led prosecutors to recommend that she be forced to take anger management classes.
Quincy attorney Bryan J. Stevens, who represents Bishop’s parents, declined to comment on Keating’s call for an inquest or his statement that the parents have been uncooperative. ‘‘No comment,’’ said Stevens in a very brief telephone conversation. ‘‘There’s nothing to report and nothing to be said.’’
Under state law, a district attorney or the attorney general can initiate an inquest to probe a death. The targets of an investigation can be present and represented by counsel and can ask the court to present or cross-examine witnesses. The court is required to report in writing when, where, and how the person died, and the name of anybody "whose unlawful act or negligence appears to have contributed" to the death.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley applauded Keating today, saying she believes an inquest is the appropriate course of action.
‘‘Over the past several weeks it has become clear that there was a need for an independent third party review of what happened at the Bishop home in Braintree in December 1986,’’ Coakley said in a statement.
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more