Bartley juror on verdict: 'We knew it was the right decision'

(WBIR-Knoxville) When Stan Sisson heard he was on jury duty for the 2005 Campbell County High School shooting, he had initial thoughts.

"All kind of things when you hear of a school shooting, all kind of things, I was thinking -- he had it in for the principal or something?"

The carpenter from Chattanooga was one of 12 people from Hamilton County called to Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's courtroom for the trial of Kenneth Bartley. Bartley faced seven counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, weapons, and drug charges. On Friday, the jury found Bartley guilty on reckless homicide for the death of Ken Bruce -- the lowest of charges outside of not guilty. He was not found not guilty on attempted murder charges.

"We did not know anything about him pleading guilty -- taking the plea bargain of 45 years. We didn't know that," Sisson said.

There were five days of testimony, with calling on about 20 witnesses including Bartley himself. The jurors listened to how the quiet 14-year-old wanted drugs, took his dad's gun to school and hoping to trade the weapon to get high.

Sisson told 10News the judge instructed the jury to consider two key questions: did Bartley think about pulling the trigger before he did it, and did he premeditate the shooting?

"The prosecution did not come close into changing anybody's mind -- if there was any intent at all. He did not wake up that morning, put his pants on grab that gun and said 'I'm going to kill someone,'" Sisson added.

The juror said the one thing that reinforced the verdict was Pierce's testimony, and the victim's conflicting accounts from 2005 and his testimony on the stand.

"(The state) would not show us the tape of Jim Pierce that they did the interview at the hospital, and when he got on stand, the interview was totally different."

Sisson stands by his decision days later, and he has heard the criticism, especially form Ken Bruce's widow, Jo.

"We believed in the justice system and it failed us today," Jo said following the verdict.

"It hurt all of us, it hurt all of us, especially the women on the jury," Sisson commented.

It took less than four hours for that verdict, but it's a decision one carpenter from Chattanooga admits will weigh on his mind for a very long time.

"We knew it was the right decision."


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories