KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The attorney for accused school shooter Kenny Bartley Jr. has filed a motion to dismiss charges after learning that key videotaped interviews with the surviving victims are missing.
Bartley was 14 years old in November 2005, when he took a gun to Campbell County Comprehensive High School to trade with another student for drugs. School officials were alerted, and Bartley was summoned to the principal’s office where some type of struggle ensued. Assistant Principal Ken Bruce was killed while Principal Gary Seale and Assistant Principal Jim Pierce were wounded.
Pierce has said in previous testimony that he had asked Bartley to show him the gun and suggested it was a toy. Bartley has said he was high on drugs at the time.
In 2007, Bartley made a last-minute plea on the day of his trial, pleading guilty to one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison with a chance of parole after 25 years.
Bartley was granted a new trial after he argued that he was pressured to plead guilty without being allowed to talk to his parents.
The new trial is set to begin Feb. 24. But The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1ixKiay) Bartley’s attorney, Gregory Isaacs, now is arguing that the charges should be dropped completely.
If Bartley goes to trial, the question for jurors will center on exactly what happened in the principal’s office, specifically whether Bartley loaded the gun and opened fire or whether the gun was fired during the struggle.
The lost interviews were taped shortly after the shooting, and Isaacs argues they could have been key to Bartley’s defense.
If Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood refuses to toss out the case, Isaacs is asking that he bar prosecutors from introducing the videotaped statement of Bartley taken at the same time as the two missing interviews.