State rests on day 3 of Kenny Bartley school shooting trial

Kenny Bartley looks over notes before Wednesday's proceedings.
Kenny Bartley looks over notes before Wednesday's proceedings.

JACKSBORO (WATE) – The state rested Wednesday morning on day three of the Kenny Bartley trial.

Kenny Bartley, then 14, is accused of bringing a gun to Campbell County High School on November 8, 2005. When administrators confronted him, Bartley allegedly fired the weapon.

Assistant Principal Ken Bruce was killed. Principal Gary Seale and Assistant Principal Jim Pierce were wounded.

Opening statements were held Monday, with testimony from a classmate of Bartley’s, School Resource Officer Susan Phillips, and a substitute teacher.

Tuesday’s testimony included accounts from the surviving victims.

Wednesday began the state’s final witnesses. A medical examiner testified who was present for Ken Bruce’s autopsy. She said the bullet from the left shoulder entered Bruce’s chest passing through the ribs, the right lung and going to the right side of the chest, using a dummy to demonstrate.

Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan said “there was a large amount of blood loss then it continues through the chest and behind the heart.”

The defense pointed out that Bruce’s arm had to have been raised for that trajectory to have been possible.

The medical examiner put shooting victim Ken Bruce’s bloody shirt on the dummy as a visual aid while explaining how the bullet entered through the left shoulder.

In cross examination she said she could not determine where the shooter was standing only the where the gun was pointed. She also said she could not determine if the shooting was intentional or accidental.

“A human pulled a trigger but the circumstances around that are to be investigated by the law enforcement,” said Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan.

The state then rested its case.

Following a short recess, defense attorney Greg Isaacs argued Bartley should be acquitted on first degree and felony murder charges.

“He denied having any plans for a homicidal act. That statement in the medical record shows a reckless homicide or an involuntary manslaughter at best,” said Isaacs.

Isaacs also said Pierce’s testimony was not credible because he could not remember his previous statements. Isaacs said Bartley could not be guaranteed a fair trial if Pierce’s testimony is considered. Isaacs also told the judge Bartley had no plans to harm anyone with the gun. He brought it to school to trade for drugs.

Prosecutor Michael Ripley argued that the shooting was premeditated.

“I don’t like you anyway is evidence of malice or animosity toward Gary Seale and an indication of intent to kill. He pulled the trigger twice,” said Ripley.

The state argued that there is evidence of intent and questions of discrepancies in testimony are matters for the jury to handle.

Without explanation Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood denied the motion for acquittal.

Because the trial was ahead of schedule and the defense was still waiting on some witnesses, Judge Blackwood then ordered recess for the day.

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