Bartley's attorney talks about trial strategy & Bartley's future

Defense attorney talks about trial strategy and Kenny Bartley's future plans

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Defense attorney Greg Isaacs says it was a just verdict. Defense attorney Greg Isaacs says it was a just verdict.
Greg Isaacs says the goal was to get the jurors to see what led to the shooting through the eyes of a 14-year-old Kenny Bartley. Greg Isaacs says the goal was to get the jurors to see what led to the shooting through the eyes of a 14-year-old Kenny Bartley.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The attorney for the Campbell County school shooter spoke with 6 News about Friday's verdict that freed his client from prison.

Kenny Bartley faced a felony murder charge in the shooting death of school administrator Ken Bruce, but a jury found him guilty of reckless homicide, a lesser charge.

After eight years behind bars, Bartley had already served the sentence length for that conviction and he was released.

Defense attorney Greg Isaacs says it was a just verdict. The jury reached a decision in less than three hours. Isaacs believes Bartley's testimony was key in getting the verdict in his favor.

"Nervous. I started panicking already because I knew I was in trouble," said Bartley on the stand Thursday.

Isaacs says his strategy was to be open and transparent by putting Kenny Bartley on the stand.

"Even though Kenny didn't have to prove anything, we wanted the jury to see, touch and feel Kenny," said Isaacs.

Isaacs says the goal was to get the jurors to see what led to the shooting through the eyes of a 14-year-old Kenny Bartley.

"After they heard Kenny's version of what happened, I think they were understanding. I think that resonated that you had a scared, panicked 14-year-old that committed a very reckless act," said Bartley.

Isaacs showed the photo of the younger Kenny Bartley many times to the jurors. He says the state attacked him for emphasizing Bartley's age at the time of the shooting.

"Instead of fighting that dynamic, and if they would have embraced it a little more, it may have been more difficult for us," said Isaacs.

The verdict was a success for the defense, but Isaacs says no one is a winner in the tragedy. Isaacs says Bartley is remorseful and plans to stay out of trouble. He says Bartley wants to inform youth of the consequences of criminal activity.

"He said, 'In the right point in time, I'd like to tell children, I'd like to tell students how important those choices are,'" said Isaacs.

Isaacs says he's been hearing many positive responses from the community, but says there have been mixed reactions. The trial garnered national attention.

"It's definitely one of my favorite cases I've ever tried but I don't want to get the credit. I want the good Lord to get the credit. I want the system to get the credit," said Isaacs.

6 News spoke with Kenny Bartley's father who says his son is doing well, but is not ready for an interview yet. Bartley's father said he son does hope to use his experience to help steer troubled youth in the right direction.

Some people say, being a defense attorney, Isaacs has helped murderers go free. In response, Isaacs says every citizen accused is entitled to a vigorous defense under our system of justice.

The prosecutor did not want to comment.

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