Former Bartley attorney gets emotional about school shooter

Former Bartley attorney gets emotional about school shooter

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"I didn't advise him to take it," Mike Hatmaker said of Kenny Bartley's plea deal. "I didn't advise him to take it," Mike Hatmaker said of Kenny Bartley's plea deal.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Campbell County High School student who killed a principal and wounded two others may now go to trial. 

Kenny Bartley was just 15 years old in 2007 when he pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. 

The judge threw out that plea deal Thursday, agreeing that Bartley didn't have enough time to make such an important decision. It was an emotional day for everyone in the courtroom, including Bartley's attorney at the time of that plea.

"I consider them as close of friends as I have," said Bartley's former attorney Mike Hatmaker on the witness stand Thursday.

He was speaking to Bartley's family, who he knew long before this case. Then he spoke directly to his former client.

"Kenneth, I love you," Hatmaker said.

That was after Bartley explained to the judge why he wanted to take back his plea deal.

"I felt pressured into doing it because I was so nervous and scared. I didn't know any other thing to do. I put my trust in my lawyer. He let me down," Bartley said.

Hatmaker says his statement to Bartley on the stand was not any sort of apology for the plea deal.

"I didn't advise him to take it," Hatmaker said.

Still, Hatmaker maintains the plea was in his client's best interest because of the opportunity for parole after 23 years, versus 51 if convicted at trial.

"Kenneth, I love him. I've know him since he was a child. I love him," Hatmaker said.

Hatmaker says he's relieved by the judge's decision for Bartley. "That's what he wanted. He got a trial," Hatmaker said.

The victims and their families declined to comment in court.

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