Pittsburgh, Pa.
Contact Search Subscribe Classifieds Lifestyle A & E Sports News Home
Local News Jobs  Commercial Real Estate  Opinion 
Commercial Real Estate
The Dining Guide
Mortgage Rates
Headlines by E-mail
Westmoreland Neighborhoods
Teen to spend 20-40 years in prison for killing his brother

Judge says Ian Bishop 'must atone' for murder

Friday, October 31, 2003

By Virginia Kopas Joe, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Ian Bishop, 16, will spend at least 20 years in prison for the brutal bludgeoning death of his brother, Adam.

The Hempfield teenager was sentenced yesterday to 20 to 40 years in prison by Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Debra A. Pezze, who told him he "must atone for the terrible manner in which his brother died."

The judge said she considered the defendant's age -- he was 14 when the murder occurred -- his lack of a prior record, "the mental illness you suffer" and his "limitless potential" in determining his sentence.

His parents, Jeffrey and Karen Bishop, who continue to stand by their only surviving child, said they will appeal the verdict. Minutes before sentencing, Jeffrey Bishop asked the judge to "return our son to us" and insisted that the crime was committed by another teen who was in the house.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Noonan, who prosecuted the case, said that "society should be protected from Ian Bishop. He poses a threat to himself and others." At the trial, Noonan had argued for a first-degree conviction that would have required life in prison without parole.

Ian Bishop, a slight, frail boy, showed no emotion yesterday but turned and looked at his parents sitting in the front row as deputies shackled him and led him away. He will be taken to the State Correctional Facility in Pine Grove, near Indiana, Pa. It houses young male offenders convicted of adult crimes and is the only state prison to offer psychological treatment. Bishop will be treated there until he is 21 and then will be put in a general population prison.

The judge's sentence of a minimum of 20 years and no more than 40 years considered only the third-degree murder verdict that a jury reached July 14. After a nine-day trial, it took jurors six hours to find Bishop guilty of murder in the third degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. He faced up to 80 years in prison if the judge had given him consecutive sentences on both counts, but Pezze did not include the conspiracy charge in her sentence.

Police arrested Ian Bishop on April 19, 2002, just hours after family friends found his 18-year-old brother Adam lying in a bathtub bleeding profusely. State police said Adam was struck at least 18 times with a claw hammer and a wooden club while on the second floor of the family's home in the rural village of Bovard.

Adam Bishop died in a Pittsburgh hospital a few hours later.

Witnesses said that after the attack, Ian Bishop went with friends to Westmoreland Mall, where he bragged about the crime.

Ian Bishop is the second youngest person ever to be tried for murder in Westmoreland County. He will be one of the youngest inmates in the state prison system. He has been in Westmoreland County Prison without bail since his arrest a year-and-a-half ago and that time will count toward his sentence. Without a successful appeal, the teenager will be in his mid-30s before he is eligible for parole.

The defense has 30 days to appeal and attorney Thomas R. Ceraso indicated he will challenge Pezze's August 2002 ruling to have Bishop tried as an adult. As a juvenile, Bishop could have been held in custody only until his 21st birthday.

A part of the defense was Ceraso's insistence that the killing blows came from Ian Bishop's friend, Rob Laskowski, 16, of the Wendover area of Hempfield. Laskowski, who was in the home at the time of the attack, remains in Westmoreland County Prison awaiting trial later this year for first-degree murder.

Pezze also denied his request for the case to be transferred to juvenile court.

Throughout the ordeal the Bishops insisted that their home life was loving and that their sons got along.

Yesterday, an angry Karen Bishop lashed out at the judge.

"This is her first big case and she used my son as her political poster boy.

"She's saying, 'Look at me, I'm a tough woman,' " Bishop said.

Pezze said that Adam Bishop was "an innocent child beaten to death" and that the crime outraged the community.

Jeffrey Bishop said that the trial did not prove that their younger son was the killer.

"Look at the testimony, [Ian] called for help for his brother, while Rob Laskowski continued to hit Adam," Jeffrey Bishop said.

Testimony showed that Ian Bishop phoned a friend the afternoon of the attack asking him to come to his house.

"We will fight forever to bring our son home," Jeffrey Bishop said yesterday.

Ceraso said that the past year in prison has helped Ian detox from "his cocktail of crack, coke, Ecstasy and pain killers." The veteran lawyer called young Bishop "one of the most intelligent clients I have ever had. His IQ is in excess of 120 and his potential is limitless."

Ceraso claims the boy has a mental disorder and that drugs contributed to his problems. He said he fears the teen will not get the continuing treatment he needs

"The case really bothers me and he's not my son," he said.

Virginia Kopas Joe can be reached at 724-837-1725 .

E-mail this story E-mail this story  Print this story Printer-friendly page

Search |  Contact Us |  Site Map |  Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise |  About Us |  What's New |  Help |  Corrections
Copyright ©1997-2007 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.