CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Kenny Bartley stood to hear his sentence Monday morning: three years for the reckless homicide of Campbell County High School assistant principal Ken Bruce, three years for having a gun on school property and two years for having drugs with the intent to deliver - all to be served at the same time for a total of three years behind bars. And since Bartley has already served 8 years, he walked out of the courtroom and into his new life.
"You now have the opportunity to live the rest of your life, but on your back will be the burden of Ken Bruce," said Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood after sentencing Bartley.
The Bruce family said they'll never understand why a jury convicted Bartley of reckless homicide instead of first degree murder and attempted murder.
"We just wish that justice could have been served by this process. But for us, we alone will carry the pain of loss and injustice because we feel that the system failed us," said Jo Bruce, Ken Bruce's widow.
"It is now the problem of this community. And it is a small community that knows the history of most of the individuals in it. It is a community that knows what has been unleashed and now knows what walks freely among them," said Wendy Bruce Montgomery, Ken Bruce's sister.
While Bartley is now free, he'll always have a record. His attorney asked for diversion, which would have wiped his record clean if he stayed out of trouble, but the judge denied the request. Jo Bruce said she's grateful for that - and happy that this ordeal is finally over for her family.
"We're ready to move forward as best we can, with our family with what we have left. And we will always, always no matter what love and value Ken Bruce," she said.
Bruce also said she's praying Bartley will do good things with his life in the future.
We tried talking with Bartley after the sentencing, but he didn't want to comment. His attorney, Greg Isaacs, said his sympathies go out to the victims' families. Isaacs also said the judge used the correct sentencing guidelines under state law and said Bartley is looking forward to starting a new life with his family.
Here's some background on the case: Bartley brought a gun to Campbell County High School back in 2005, where he shot and killed assistant principal Ken Bruce. In 2007, Bartley agreed to a plea deal, but was granted a trial this year after a judge ruled he was pressured into the deal and didn't have time to discuss it with his parents. A jury found him guilty of reckless homicide and other charges.