Campbell school shooter's statement to be heard at trial

Campbell school shooter's statement to be heard at trial

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Kenny Bartley, then 14, is accused of shooting three administrators in 2005 at Campbell County High School, killing one. Kenny Bartley, then 14, is accused of shooting three administrators in 2005 at Campbell County High School, killing one.
"You have to process and relive each and every moment again. It's difficult," said Jo Bruce, widow of victim Ken Bruce. "You have to process and relive each and every moment again. It's difficult," said Jo Bruce, widow of victim Ken Bruce.
Bartley waived his rights, but attorney Greg Isaacs called on a forensic psychologist who testified Wednesday the teen didn't understand what he was doing. Bartley waived his rights, but attorney Greg Isaacs called on a forensic psychologist who testified Wednesday the teen didn't understand what he was doing.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

JACKSBORO (WATE) - It's been eight years since Kenny Bartley, then 14, shot three administrators at Campbell County High School, killing one. The case took another step toward trial Wednesday, as the defense tried to have Bartley's statement to police barred from evidence.     

Bartley pleaded guilty to the crimes in 2007 and was sentenced to 45 years, but that plea was later thrown out. A judge said his attorney at the time was ineffective and his parents should have been allowed to weigh in on the plea deal.     

Bartley's new defense attorney, Greg Isaacs, argued Wednesday that his client was too young and mentally impaired when he made the decision to talk to police on his own. He called on a forensic psychologist to help make his case.

Surviving victims principal Gary Seale and assistant principal Jim Pierce were in court Wednesday. Jo Bruce, the widow of assistant principal Ken Bruce was also in attendance.

"You have to process and relive each and every moment again. It's difficult," she said. "I hate it for Kenny and his family, but I hate it more for mine. They get to see him. They get to be with him. We don't get that. We need to not forget that Ken Bruce died that day with his hands up in the air."

After the shooting, then-Campbell County Sheriff's Capt. Don Farmer read Bartley his rights and proceeded to take his statement, without waiting for his parents or an attorney.

"He was still a child, correct?" asked Isaacs.

"Fourteen, yes," answered Farmer.

Bartley waived his rights, but Isaacs called on a forensic psychologist who testified Wednesday the teen didn't understand what he was doing.

"Brain development, maturation, experience, are all critical in this period and he was using drugs that had very powerful affects," said Dr. James Murray.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ultimately ruled he would allow Bartley's statement to be heard by the jury, a relief to the victims and their families, though they aren't looking forward to the trial.

"It's going to very difficult to look at the evidence, to see the pictures and hear the words, but we're going to do it," Bruce said.

The trial is scheduled to start on February 24. The jury will be brought in from another county.

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