DEFENSE: Bartley school shooting trial should be moved

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By Beth Braden

JACKSBORO—School shooter Kenneth Bartley will get a new trial, but it may not be in Campbell County.
In a motion filed by defense attorney Greg Isaacs, he maintains a change of venue is needed because of “inflammatory media coverage” of the events surrounding the Nov. 2005 shooting at Campbell County High School that killed Ken Bruce and wounded two others.
The lengthy motion for a venue change was filed in Campbell County Criminal Court on July 11.
The motion asks the court to take “judicial notice” of media coverage in several local outlets, including the LaFollette Press.
Several articles regarding the case are archived at our website, www.lafollettepress.com.
Finding an impartial jury is also a concern, according to the document.
“Statistically, it is highly probable that every resident of Campbell County knew at least one student or staff member who was present at the high school when the shooting occurred,” the motion said.
When the jury was selected for the original 2007 trial, more than 20 jurors had to be excused because they were in some way acquainted with the defendant, the victim or had already formed an opinion about Bartley’s innocence.
Media coverage and the ability to post online comments “dramatically increased the environment of prejudice, hostility and undue excitement that would make picking a…jury not only improbable but impossible,” the motion said.
It was unclear when a decision would be made about changing the venue.
Bartley’s retrial is currently on the docket for the week of Nov. 18.