Kenny Bartley testifies in school shooting trial, defense rests

Kenny Bartley took the stand in his own defense.
Kenny Bartley took the stand in his own defense.

JACKSBORO (WATE) – Kenny Bartley, who is accused in the 2005 deadly shooting at Campbell County High School took the stand Thursday in his own defense.

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.

On the stand Thursday, Bartley said he took a sleeping medication the night before the shooting that he had never taken before. He said it he woke up around 10 a.m. feeling sick and talked to his dad about going to the doctor.

He says he then went into his dad’s bedroom to take his dad’s girlfriend’s Xanax. Instead he found a box containing the gun and some Valium.

He said he thought he would take the gun to trade with his neighbor for some drugs, since he had traded a knife for drugs in the past.

Bartley then said he put the clip in the gun, and began getting ready for school. He says he put the gun in his right cargo pocket. He also said he snorted two Valiums before going to school.

Bartley then discussed snorting a line of Xanax in keyboarding class and telling a classmate who brushed up against the gun that he was going to trade it for more drugs.

Bartley said he was calm about being called to the office, and had a pleasant conversation with the school resource officer on the way there.

He then described being in the office, waiting with the SRO for Seale to arrive. He said he was not anxious and assumed he was in the office because he was late to school. He said no one asked him about the gun while waiting for Seale.

When Seale and Bruce arrived, the SRO left. Bartley said he began to panic and knew he was in trouble. Pierce asked what was in his pocket and Seale reached for his pocket.

Bartley said that was when he stood up and pulled the gun out, facing Seale.

Bartley said Seale asked if the gun was real, saying it looked like a squirt gun and that Bartley didn’t know how to use a gun.

“I told him I did, and I cocked the gun, and as I cocked the gun, I saw Pierce behind me swivel in his chair. And when he did, I thought he was coming at me and that’s when I fired the first shot.”

Bartley said he shot at random, not aiming at anyone.

“I shot as fast as the trigger could be pulled, I guess is the best way to say it. It was one shot right after the other.”

Pierce then took him to the ground.

Bartley said he felt horrible after the shooting and was crying.

“Bringing a gun to school was the worst decision of my life. I feel horrible about what happened,” he said.

Bartley said he ruined his life in 10 seconds and it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been high on Xanax.

During cross examination from the prosecution, the state brought up Bartley’s statements to detectives, during which Bartley said he pointed the gun at Seale and said he shot all three men and kept shooting.

“I just pointed and shot it again then I pointed at the guy below me and I shot it I’m not sure how many times I shot each person I just remember shooting,”

He also said he wasn’t looking for the gun at his dad’s house, but was looking for drugs. He said he thought it would be easier to take the gun to school and trade it afterward because it was easier to ride with his friend to his friend’s dad’s house.

“You thought it would be easier to take a loaded gun to school didn’t you?” asked the prosecution.

“Yeah, I didn’t think about it like that, but yeah,” replied Bartley.

He admitted he could have given the gun up at any time.

Two of Bartley’s classmates also testified earlier in the morning. Trent McCullah testified he snorted pills in class with Bartley. Preston Young testified he went outside with Bartley after lunch and wanted tobacco. He reached for Bartley’s pocket and felt the gun. He said he was the one who told Pierce about the gun.

The defense rested its case around 2 p.m., just before the state called a rebuttal witness.

Closing arguments are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday.

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