Hospital bed testimony will be permitted in school shooter trial

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By Beth Braden

JACKSBORO—Kenny Bartley’s post-shooting, hospital-bed testimony will be admissible as evidence when he goes to trial in February.
Bartley’s explanation of events, given just hours after he allegedly shot and killed Campbell County High School Principal Ken Bruce and wounded assistant principals Gary Seale and Jim Pierce, was voluntary, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ruled on Wednesday.
Bartley’s attorney, Greg Isaacs, argued against the legitimacy of the statement, including points that Bartley had allegedly snorted Valium before going to school the day of the shooting, and that he was too young to understand he was waiving his Miranda rights if he even understood what Miranda rights were.  
Assistant District Attorney General Mike Ripley disagreed.
The statement was admissible, Ripley said, because then Det. Don Farmer read Bartley his rights twice and Bartley wanted to talk.
“I would like to talk to somebody about it,” Bartley said at the hospital, according to court documents.
One of the defense witnesses may have accidentally provided some further credibility for the state’s side of the argument.
Forensic psychologist James Murray, Ph.D., testified that Bartley had an above average verbal IQ, though other particular IQ scores were below average. The verbal IQ score meant Bartley understood the meaning of words, Murray admitted on cross-examination.
Blackwood said he was going to trust Farmer’s judgement when he said Bartley did not appear to be under the influence and was calm at the hospital.
The trial is slated to begin on Feb. 24, 2014 with a jury selected from Hamilton County.