Judge sets aside Kenny Bartley's guilty plea

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- A judge accepted the motion to dismiss Kenny Bartley's plea withdrawal motion. Bartley wanted the court to throw out the guilty plea he entered as part of a deal struck when he was fifteen.

Bartley had taken a defense lawyer's advise and accepted a plea deal that brought him a 45-year prison sentence with possible parole in 25 years.

His new attorney, Greg Isaacs, filed the motion to withdraw the guilty plea.

He argued that Bartley was unaware of the plea deal until right before the trial, when Bartley's lawyer at the time, Mike Hatmaker, leaned over and told him about it. After which, Isaacs said Bartley was taken into the judge's chamber with several of the victims' family members where the deal was discussed with them to see if the deal was acceptable to them.

Isaacs argued Bartley felt pressured and, being 15, was nervous and scared. He added that Bartley was told by Hatmaker that he had no other option.

The state though contended that a previous attorney for Bartley, Bruce Poston, had tried to get the plea withdrawn and was rejected by the court. They added that Bartley also had agreed to the deal, signing the paper entering the guilty plea.

Bartley was 14 in April 2005 when he was accused of felony murder in the shooting death of Campbell County Comprehensive High School Assistant Principal Ken Bruce and the wounding of Principal Gary Seale and Assistant Principal Jim Pierce.

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