published Monday, February 24th, 2014

Trial begins in Tennessee for ex-student accused in fatal school shooting

JACKSBORO, Tenn. — Opening statements have begun in the murder trial of a former Campbell County High School student who is accused of fatally shooting an assistant principal.

Police say Kenneth Bartley was 14 years old when he gunned down vice principal Ken Bruce and wounded two assistant principals in November of 2005.

Bartley is facing seven charges, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and bringing a gun to school grounds.

WBIR is reporting that in opening remarks prosecutors told the jury that Bartley brought a loaded gun and 10 Xanex pills to school on the day of the shooting. The student, the prosecutor said, opened fire on the three administrators when they confronted him in the principal's office about the gun.

But the defense countered by telling the jury that the crime was not premeditated. Bartley's attorney said the student only brought the gun to school so he could trade it for drugs. The defense maintained that he never planned to shoot anyone.

More than 20 witnesses are expected to testify at the trial. Bruce's widow was in the courtroom on Monday.

It looked as if there would be no trial in the case after Bartley pleaded guilty in 2007 in exchange for a 45-year sentence. But the guilty plea was thrown out because Bartley was a minor when he made the deal with prosecutors and his parents never consented to the agreement. Bartlett is currently 22.

Jurors had to be picked from Hamilton County because of all the publicity surrounding the case. The jury will remain sequestered in Campbell County throughout the trial.

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