Prosecutors: Bartley opened fire on administrators with "no mercy"

Seven years after a deadly school shooting, the trial for a student accused of killing a vice prinicpal is now underway.

On the first day of Kenneth Bartley's trial, we learned more about what happened the day Vice Principal Ken Bruce was fatally shot, and Principal Ken Seal and Vice Principal Jim Pierce were injured.

Prosecutors said Bartley was looking for the drug Xanax, and brought the gun to school to help get it.

Trent McCulla, a friend of Bartley's, testified that the two of them snorted Xanax that morning in the computer lab, and that he saw the gun in Bartley's pocket.

The schools' security officer, Susan Phillips, said she knew about the gun, but instead of confronting Bartley about it, she told him he needed to go to the principal's office about an absence issue. She said she didn't want him to get suspicious and fire the gun.

She also said that, according to school policy at the time, a female school employee could not touch a male student, so she used the attendance excuse to get Bartley out of the classroom and to the office.

Prosecutors claim that Bartley opened fire "with no mercy" in that office when he was confronted about the gun.

The defense counters that the incident could have been handled differently, and claimed the SRO did not have the proper training.

Court will be back in session at 9 am on Tuesday.

UPDATE 12:46 pm:

(WBIR-Jacksboro, Campbell County) Opening statements for the trial of Kenneth Bartley began Monday morning inside a packed courtroom, almost seven years and four months since Campbell County High School joined an unwanted list of school shootings.

The 22-year-old, currently housed in a Tiptonville prison, faces seven charges: first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, bringing a gun to school grounds, and attempting to sell and distribute a scheduled IV drug.

In November 2005, Bartley was a 14-year-old student when prosecutors accuse him of bringing a gun into Campbell County High School, where he allegedly shot and killed vice principal Ken Bruce. Two assistant principals were also injured but survived.

Bruce's widow attended the first day of the trial where more than 20 witnesses are expected to take the stand.

In her opening remarks, the district attorney described how Bartley brought a loaded gun and 10 Xanex pills to school. When the 14-year-old was confronted about the gun inside the principal's office, the state said Bartley allegedly fired the gun six times, hitting the all three of the administrators.

The defense argued during their opening remarks that shooting wasn't premeditated because Bartley didn't plan to shoot anyone when he came to school with a gun. They said the teen brought the gun to school to trade for drugs. The defense also claimed that authorities had enough time to take away the gun before the shooting occurred.

In 2007, Bartley accepted a 45-year sentence in exchange for a plea deal. But, in 2011, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood threw out the plea because Bartley made the bargain without consent from his parents, granting defense attorney Greg Isaacs a trial for his client.

On Friday, a jury of six men and six women were selected from a pool of 400 people from Hamilton County. Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood chose to go outside of Campbell County because of pre-trial publicity. Two alternates, a man and woman will also hear the trial's proceedings. The jury traveled to Jacksboro last night, where they'll be sequestered for the entire trial.

Stay with 10News and for the latest on the trial. You can follow the proceedings on Twitter with hashtag #bartleytrial.

Previous Story:

(WBIR) The trial for the man accused of a 2005 deadly school shooting in Campbell County starts today.

On Friday, a jury of six men and six women were selected in Hamilton County for Kenneth Bartley's trial. Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood decided the select jurors away from Campbell County in order to get an unbiased jury. The jurors are now sequestered in Campbell County for the trial.

MORE: Jurors selected for Campbell Co. HS shooting trial

Bartley was 14-years-old when prosecutors said he took a gun to Campbell County High School. Three school administrators then confronted him in the principal's office, where Assistant Principal Ken Bruce was fatally shot. The two other administrators were also shot but survived.

In 2007, Bartley initially pleaded guilty to the shooting in exchange for a lesser sentence. But in 2011, a judge threw out Bartley's previous guilty plea, after his attorney argued that authorities pressured the teenager into the plea without discussing it with his parents.

Defense attorneys have said this trial will rest on whether 14-year-old Bartley had intent when he allegedly opened fire inside the high school.


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