Bartley released; found not guilty of first-degree murder

Full interview with Kenneth Bartley's attorney, Gregory Isaacs, after the verdict was reached Friday. 2-28-14

Kenneth Bartley is a free man, released on a $7,500 bond after more than eight years behind bars.

Friday, a jury found Bartley guilty of reckless homicide in the 2005 Campbell County High School shooting that killed a vice principal and injured two other administrators.

Reckless homicide is a reduced charge. He was originally charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Ken Bruce.

The jury of six men and six women from Hamilton County found Bartley not guilty Friday of attempted first-degree murder for the shootings of Principal Gary Seale and Vice Principal Jim Pierce.

"Literally when we went back into the room, Kenny broke down and cried," said Defense Attorney Greg Isaacs of Bartley's stated after the verdict was read. "He basically broke down on the table and was speechless and he cried the entire time we were back there."

WEB EXTRA: Full interview with Gregory Isaacs, Kenneth Bartley's attorney

He was found guilty of having a loaded firearm at school and two drug charges.

The defense contended Bartley took a loaded gun to school to trade it with a neighbor's son for drugs. They say he was a scared kid, and the shooting happened without any forethought or malice.

In 2007, Bartley pleaded guilty to the shootings and was sentenced to more than 40 years behind bars, but a judge threw his plea out after the defense argued that prosecutors pressured Bartley into making the deal without his parents present.

10News legal analyst Dennis Francis says depending on the sentence, Bartley could be immediately eligible for parole based on the time he has already served. The usual sentence of reckless homicide is 2-4 years.

WEB EXTRA: Full interview with Jo Bruce, Ken Bruce's widow, on Bartley verdict

Ken Bruce's widow, Jo Bruce, said this was a "very sad day" after the verdict, and that the justice system had failed her family.

"I'm devastated, but I will tell you this, this will not kill my family," she said.

Bartley said he was crying and felt shocked after the shooting, saying he would do anything to take it back.

"I'm sorry - I would do anything to take it back," he said.

The trial started Monday.

What does this mean? Inside Tennessee panelist Don Bosch breaks down the verdict and describes what's next.


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