QUINCY -- The judicial inquest into the 1986 shooting death of Seth Bishop is over for today after 10 witnesses, including Amy Bishop's parents, gave testimony behind closed doors.
Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Robert Nelson, who is questioning the witnesses as they appear before Quincy District Court Judge Mark S. Coven, said the closed-door proceeding will resume Wednesday. He said he expects the last witnesses will testify on Thursday.
Among the 10 witnesses who appeared today were Judith and Samuel Bishop. The couple entered -- and left -- the courthouse without being seen by reporters.
According to former Braintree police officers who are familiar with the couple, the Bishops were called to testify at 8:30 a.m. They spent about an hour behind the closed doors of the inquest, now being held in a second-floor courtroom, said the former officers, who were waiting to testify themselves.
Judith Bishop was in the family's Braintree home on Dec. 6, 1986, when Amy fatally shot Seth with their father's shotgun.
The death was ruled an accident at the time, but it is receiving renewed scrutiny since Amy Bishop was accused of shooting six colleagues at the University of Alabama in February, killing three of them.
By early afternoon today, several former Braintree police officers were called before Coven, the last of whom insisted that the investigation into Seth Bishop's death was bungled and that Amy Bishop should have faced criminal charges.
Kenneth Brady, who was a sergeant at the time of Seth Bishop's death, faulted former Norfolk District Attorney William R. Delahunt, the State Police troopers who investigated the shooting for prosecutors, and former Braintree police chief John Polio.
"They just didn’t seem to, nothing seemed, to go right,'' Brady said.
Polio has denied wrongdoing in the case. Delahunt has previously said that he had no direct knowledge of the case and simply followed the recommendation of his assistant, John Kivlan, that the case be closed without charges. Kivlan has said he relied on the State Police detective, Brian L. Howe, who has said he relied on Braintree Police, who did not provide him with key police reports in the case.
While Brady criticized, another former Braintree officer said the department properly investigated the circumstances of the shooting inside the Bishops' Hollis street home decades ago.
"Nobody would do something like that,'' said retired officer Timothy Murphy, who handcuffed Amy Bishop after the shooting.
Murphy responded to the shooting scene that day and was then dispatched to search for Amy Bishop, who had fled the Hollis Street home with the shotgun she used against her younger brother.
When police found Amy Bishop, Murphy ordered her to drop her shotgun, and she refused until he asked her for the third time, according to Braintree police reports. Still, Murphy said today he doesn’t believe she should have been charged with a crime. He also said he is convinced the investigation was handled properly.
"Everything that was supposed to be done, was done,'' he said. "It was handled very professionally. ''
Murphy called Seth Bishop's death "a horrible, horrible thing for everyone involved.''
Earlier, two other former officers heavily involved in the department's response to the shooting appeared before the inquest. The former officers -- William Finn and Richard Jordan – both refused to speak with reporters.
"No comment, '' Finn said as he breezed past reporters.
Police reports show Jordan was one of the first officers on the scene of Seth Bishop's shooting. He accompanied Seth's body to the hospital where he was declared dead. Jordan later also took photos of the scene and helped other officers process evidence at the Bishop residence that day.
Finn, the second former officer, was more directly involved with a crucial witness – Amy Bishop's mother – and was also on hand when Bishop surrendered to police after threatening an employee at a nearby car dealership with a shotgun.
Earlier, Thomas Pettigrew, the car dealership worker whom Bishop allegedly held up at gunpoint after killing her brother, said that he planned simply "to tell the truth."
When asked if Bishop should be charged in the death of her brother, he said he didn't know.
"We'll find out at the end of the inquest," he said, before a State Police trooper motioned him inside the courtroom.
Shortly before 10 a.m., Pettigrew emerged to say that he had been dismissed for the day and ordered to return to the courthouse Wednesday. He said he did not testify today.
Shortly after Bishop was charged after the Feb. 12 shootings at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, revelations began to emerge about her past in Massachusetts, including the 1986 shooting of her brother.
The judge, a prosecutor, and a series of witnesses are expected to try to reconstruct what happened in the Bishop home on the afternoon Seth Bishop was killed, the Globe reported on Sunday.
But while the much-anticipated inquiry may reveal new information about whether his sister, Amy, killed him intentionally, it might not shed any new light on one of the most pressing questions stemming from the case: Did investigators deliberately withhold or ignore evidence, allowing a possible murderer to go free and kill again?
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more