Bartley Asks to Change Guilty Plea

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman
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Lafollette, Campbell County (WVLT) - Convicted school shooter Kenneth Bartley, Junior, now says he wants to withdraw his plea deal.

Bartley's attorney Mike Hatmaker filed a motion asking Bartley’s guilty plea be withdrawn and for an order of not guilty to be entered.

As for victims, they thought this part of their pain and grief was behind them.

Most Campbell Countians found out when the local paper hit the stands this morning.

Jo Bruce was on her way back from a speaking engagement at Troy High School in Ohio. "We were really on a high in that car feeling really good, the phone rings, and I look down and, of course, I recognize it's the DA's number."

Jo answered it. "She said I didn't really want to call you, but...”

The atmosphere in the car suddenly changed. "I really appreciate the phone call. It gave me some private time to kind of gather my thoughts and to prepare my family for what's ahead."

Jim Pierce, who still has a bullet lodged between his heart and spine, thought everything was over. "Don't know a whole lot about it now, but it's upsetting when you think that everything's over and you're trying to put it behind you."

Mike Ripley who is Assistant District Attorney for Campbell County responded to us without hesitation saying he was surprised, adding this has no merit and he will oppose it.

"We've had a really tough 48-hours,” says Bruce.

But Bruce's belief in the system remains steady. "We've said all along that we will stand behind the justice system. We have faith in it. Ken believed in it."

She encourages students, all students, to stay strong. "We are not about vengeance. We're not about getting even. You can't get even anyway. You can't get even with when someone takes a life. There is no eye-for-an-eye for any of that."

We spoke with Bartley’s father Thursday morning and he told us that he doesn't want to do or say anything to jeopardize Kenneth’s case.

Phone calls to his mother Rita Vannoy were not returned, and she was not at her office when we stopped by.

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