Bartelt sentenced on charges stemming from December gun on campus incident at A-State

Bartelt sentenced on charges stemming from December gun on campus incident at A-State
Published: Aug. 23, 2016 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2016 at 11:29 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The trial of a man involved in a reported "active shooter" situation on the campus of Arkansas State University nearly a year ago started Tuesday. We continue to track the proceedings from inside the courtroom:

5:50 p.m. Aug. 26: Brad Bartelt sentenced to 18 years on the terroristic threatening charge and 6 years on the making a terroristic threat charge.

Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington spoke with Region 8 News after the sentencing order came down.

"The representatives of the community found him guilty, the representatives of the community gave him an 18 year sentence and that was appropriate," Ellington said. "The community as a whole was harmed and put in danger when he came onto ASU's campus with a truck and a propane tank and a gas can and a shotgun, and we feel like we got a good result in that regard. The jury saw mercy and we can't fault the jury for their decisions as far as the sentencing goes."

Bartelt does have a chance to appeal his conviction to a higher court.

Since the jury stated that Bartelt's sentences should not be consecutive, he could get out of prison in 4½ years due to parole eligibility and good behavior.

3:35 p.m. Aug. 26: Brad Bartelt has been found guilty of terroristic threatening and of making a terroristic threat. He was found not guilty on five counts of aggravated assault. The guilty charge of making a terroristic threat is Class A felony, and could carry 6-30 years in prison. The terroristic threatening is a Class D felony, and could carry 0-6 years in prison.

3:15 p.m. Aug. 26: Two hours after beginning deliberations, the jury asked the judge a question regarding the aggravated assault charge against Brad Bartelt.

According to Region 8 News' Allison Munn, who is in the courtroom, the jury asked if the charge was "just for the initial contact with UPD officers or for the entire incident at A-State."

Judge Tommy Fowler told the jury he had already given them all the instructions he could. He then urged them to look back over their notes and decide themselves.

Friday, Aug. 26: The jury has entered into deliberation in the case against Brad Bartelt.

Before entering into deliberation, the state and defense submitted jury instructions and made closing arguments.

The jury instructions included an insert stating A-State was required to send the emergency alert and a lesser charge of criminal trespassing.

The state's closing arguments recapped what happened on Dec. 10, 2015, stating Bartelt wanted attention and to share his story of pain and suffering.

While in his testimony Thursday, Bartelt said he wanted to harm himself and A-State was a place of peace for him, the state demonstrated that the 911 call did not demonstrate that statement.

The state said it's clear he wanted to share his story from looking at his Facebook post, notebook, and interviews with detectives.

The state said it is "absurd" the defense would try to argue A-State overreacted with Bartelt, and Bartelt crossed the line when he tried to make his pain all of our pain.

A-State students, parents, and the community had a right to be afraid, according to the State.

"He's guilty," the state said. "He's not a victim."

The defense closed by focusing on a theory that the active shooter training university officials were in was the catalyst for the active shooter alert.

They claimed the active shooter alert being sent out caused a media fire storm and panic.

The defense said the university would look like "clowns" if they didn't come up with a way to make Bartelt a more serious threat like the alert stated.

News articles were a big focus for the defense, as they were used to show the police stated Bartelt never pointed the gun at them.

It was questioned how Bartelt could be a terrorist if he only wanted to harm himself.

There was also a reference of a folk tale in the defense's close, stating the people in power at Arkansas State simply didn't want to tell the truth.

Bartelt's defense attorney said this was his easiest case because Bartelt isn't arguing he wasn't at A-State, just simply that the charges are improper.

Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington responded to the defense's close by stating Bartelt has gotten what he wanted-attention.

Ellington reiterated testimony from A-State students and the evidence admitted.

When Bartelt testified Thursday, he said maybe he shouldn't have gone to A-State that day. He said maybe he should have gone to the Social Security office.

Ellington used that statement as proof Bartelt still hasn't let go of his issues and remains a threat.

There is no mental illness instruction in the jury instructions, and Ellington said it's clear Bartelt is conscious because he's continually helped his attorney with papers and remembering names throughout the trial.

Ellington said no one should be beat up because there were no lives lost. He said public safety was maintained, and now it's time for the jury to judge the actions of Bartelt.

Thursday, Aug. 25: The third day of Brad Bartelt's trial began with the state calling its final witness, Detective Chris Poe, to the stand.

Poe has 10 years of experience as a detective with the Jonesboro Police Department.

His testimony mostly consisted of the introduction of evidence such as the shotgun, the propane tank, gas can, knife, shotgun shells, American flag, and "Don't tread on me" flag all found in Bartelt's truck.

In the cross-examination by the defense, Poe was asked how far this particular shotgun and shell would shoot in the case it was fired.

It was also stated by Detective Poe that the additions to the gun did not make it illegal for Bartelt to possess.

The defense used photos entered into evidence by the state to make the point if the shotgun fired from Bartelt's location, it wouldn't have harmed anyone in the Student Union.

Poe said he didn't know if it would hit someone or not if the shotgun fired.

The state came back with a more hands-on demonstration.

The state took the shotgun to the back of the courtroom and asked Poe, sitting at the witness stand, if by standing that far away he still felt threatened.

Poe said yes. The state then concluded their case, and the defense moved to have a direct verdict.

The defense said the state failed to prove the definition of Bartelt's charges. The defense argued Bartelt only intended to harm himself no one else.

It was also argued by the defense that any feeling of terror or threat was caused by the active shooter alert sent out to students and faculty.

The state then argued against the direct verdict, claiming the jury has plenty of evidence to prove Bartelt intended to gain attention and cause fear or threats.

The state said by intentionally loading his truck with a gas can, propane tank, and gun and then calling 911 to tell the dispatcher he had those items he intended to cause a threat.

Also, by laying his notebook of personal documents on a table in front of the union, Bartelt was asking to inform others of what had happened to him and his problems.

The argument continued to state Bartelt wanted revenge and by doing what he did the charges against him are fair.

The judge denied the motion for a direct verdict on the basis the state has given enough proof for the charges.

After a recess for lunch, the court reconvened as the defense began to bring forth witnesses.

Jordan Sheets and Reed McPherson, both A-State students, were brought to the stand and questioned about their contact with Bartelt.

After their testimony, Lt. Todd Nelson was called to the stand. During the defense's line of questioning, lawyers asked Nelson about the wording of an article published on KAIT's website. The article attributed Nelson as saying that after the "active shooter alert" was sent out, officers determined Bartelt to be a "detained suspect".

Nelson told the court that he did not use the term "detained suspect."

After Nelson's answer, the defense asked that a KAIT employee, who was covering the trial, to leave. Defense lawyers said the employee was a witness and could not discuss testimony he overheard.

The judge then brought the KAIT employee back into the courtroom and the defense called him to the stand.

The KAIT employee maintained the wording in the KAIT article was factual, based on an interview with Lt. Nelson.

The KAIT employee then left the courtroom and was removed from the story.

After that, Arkansas State President Dr. Chuck Welch was called to the stand.

The defense questioned Dr. Welch about the 'active shooter' wording in an alert and questioned whether Welch took into effect parent's, and loved one's feelings and concerns about the alert's wording.

Dr. Welch said the school made the best decision possible with the information that they had at the time to make sure the campus community of students and faculty were safe.

Brad Bartelt himself took the stand Thursday too.

Bartelt detailed the three years of his life leading up to Dec. 10, 2015, which he said sent him in a downward spiral, ready to commit suicide.

Bartelt said his injury at ASU-Newport in 2012 started it all. He explained that bad interactions with ASUN administration, various lawyers and judges caused him to sometimes have homicidal thoughts against those individuals.

Bartelt added that in that time frame, two marriages failed and he was ready to end his life.

Bartelt said he went to the A-State campus to kill himself because he had good memories from his time there as an undergraduate student. However, when he pulled onto campus, Bartelt said so much had changed, he didn't know where he was.

Bartelt said he ended up on the lawn of the Student Union because he was trying to find an open area away from any students. He said he didn't know that finals were taking place.

Bartelt said he cut donuts on the lawn in an effort to get people away from the area since he only had intentions of injuring himself. He later said his actions that day, including the donuts, and hanging flags on his truck were in an attempt to get a news agency there for his suicide so they might investigate why he did it.

Bartelt explained that he did threaten to shoot the propane tank when officers started closing in, in an attempt to get them to back up.

In the state's cross-examination of Bartelt, they asked why, if he remembered incidents like Westside and Columbine, would he go onto a campus with a gun and cause A-State students and Craighead County residents such concern.

Bartelt said he just wasn't thinking rationally.

We spoke briefly with the defense attorney after Thursday's court proceedings. He said he couldn't comment on what happened in court Thursday, but hinted that the case may be decided by the jury Friday.

Wednesday, Aug. 24: The second day of the Brad Bartelt trial began with the defense cross-examining University Police Department Lt. Bobby Duff.

Bartelt's defense questioned Duff's written statement after the Dec. 2015 event versus the testimony he gave on Tuesday.

They claimed Duff left out information in a written statement he used in his testimony, such as Bartelt being aggressive.

The defense also questioned Duff on whether his statements heard on his body camera footage, including Bartelt having military training, were deliberate in order to get Bartelt killed.

Duff said no and anything said was to let other agencies arriving on scene know of any possibilities with Bartelt.

Once again the defense focused on the use of "active shooter" in the A-State campus alert. They restated that Bartelt was not an "active shooter."

The next witness, John Carvell, safety and emergency management coordinator for Arkansas State University, was called to the stand.

Carvell organized a table top exercise with university administration to discuss the active shooter policy the day Bartelt was on campus. He said the exercise was in no way related to the Bartelt incident.

Carvell said there is a law that requires universities to alert students of any possibly dangerous situation.

When the defense asked Carvell if that law says you must use the term "active shooter," he said no.

The state asked Carvell if someone were to break into his home would he wait to call police until shots were fired. He said no, adding you don't wait to protect people.

The defense followed up by asking the importance of stating the correct emergency. An example being a fire versus a break-in.

Carvell was dismissed and Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott was called.

Elliott's testimony mainly consisted of watching his dash cam video of the incident.

Elliott said it took about 2 minutes to get from the Jonesboro Police Department to A-State's campus after he heard the radio traffic.

In the video you can see Elliot's vehicle park near Bartelt's truck close to Wilson Hall.

While there is no audio on the dash cam footage, you can see Bartelt get in and out of his truck multiple times, wave his hands, and wave the gun.

Elliott said Bartelt did have constant dialog with law enforcement, which Elliott considers a good sign in a case such as this, but Elliott said he heard Bartelt threaten to blow up the propane tank in the back of his truck.

In the video, you can see Bartelt surrender and be taken into custody.

The defense's only question asked Elliott about a statement he gave to a newspaper stating Bartelt never pointed a gun at any law enforcement.

Elliott agreed that statement was true.

After the lunch recess, the judge talked to every juror individually.

He asked them questions to find out if they had seen or heard anything about the case outside of the courtroom.

This came at the defense's request after a Facebook post from a spectator was discovered.

The post was a reaction to the cross-examination of Duff earlier in the day.

Due to this post, the defense filed a motion for a mistrial.

The defense argued that it could have influenced the jurors while the prosecution said the post made no reference to the Bartelt trial.

The judge dismissed the motion and stated the jurors claimed to not have seen anything about the case outside of the courtroom.

The prosecution then called Detective Kenneth Oldham with JPD to the witness stand.

Oldham discussed where he was the day of the incident and a notebook they received from Bartelt while on campus.

He said the notebook contained many different items including divorce papers, medical documents, and a will.

Oldham read a piece of paper he called the "For the cause of it all page."

He said it was a note from Bartelt explaining why he did what he did on A-State's campus.

After Oldham was dismissed from the stand, Detective Jason Simpkins with JPD was called as the next witness.

Simpkins told the court he was the negotiator the day of the incident.

He described what he did to get Bartelt to surrender to police.

Simpkins said he was concerned for his safety because Bartelt was waving the shotgun around and threatening to shoot the tank in the back of his truck.

During the defense's cross-examination of Simpkins, they asked if Bartelt ever shot the gun.

Simpkins told them no.

He was dismissed from the stand and the third and final witness for the day was called up.

That witness was Detective Mike Branscum also with JPD.

Branscum interviewed Bartelt after he was taken into custody and transported to the police department.

He said Bartelt told him that he wanted to get his story out there and that this all started after an accident at ASU-Newport a few years ago.

A video of that interview was shown to the court.

When the defense questioned Branscum, he further explained what Bartelt discussed.

Branscum explained Bartelt said he tried to take pictures of demons in the woods by his house and that someone from ASU was following him.

He also said Bartelt told him he was upset with a federal judge.

Branscum was dismissed from the stand and the jury was released for the day.

Tuesday, Aug. 23: Three witnesses were called Tuesday morning including a Craighead County dispatcher, a member of the University Police Department, and an Arkansas State University student.

On the stand, Dispatcher Linda Gann described the nature of Brad Bartelt's call to 911. Bartelt told her he had a shotgun on the Jonesboro campus on Dec. 10, 2015.

Gann said the call was unlike most she has received in her 19 and a half years as a dispatcher.

The defense did not ask Gann any questions.

Capt. Jarrod Long was called to the stand at 9:50 a.m. He described what happened that day.

He was in the A-State Student Union in a training course discussing policy for active shooters when he heard the radio traffic of Bartelt being on campus.

Long exited the union with another UPD officer to check out the situation.

Long said when he approached Bartelt, Bartelt told him to get back. Both UPD officers retreated and followed procedure by clearing out the union and then notifying Jonesboro's SWAT Unit.

Long explained policy and why Bartelt was originally identified as an "active shooter." He said it was because police were not sure of his intentions, but he did have a gun.

The defense questioned Long by recounting his previous testimony.

Long was asked specifically how he worded the text and email alert that was sent to students and faculty.

The defense asked Long if the use of "active shooter" caused panic and fear.

The defense also said the running out of buildings was caused by the use of the words "active shooter" without anyone having direct contact with Bartelt.

Long stated he felt it was better to alert the students before shots were fired, but no shots were ever fired by Bartelt.

At 11:25 a.m., an A-State student, Alyssa, was called as a witness. She called the University Police Department to warn of a green truck doing donuts on the union lawn.

Alyssa said while she never saw a gun, she felt uneasy when she saw Bartelt pacing back and forth from a union window.

Her call to UPD was played. Alyssa said shortly after her call, she saw people running from the union so she followed.

She ran to the armory located right off of A-State's campus where she stayed until it was safe.

The defense also asked Alyssa about the use of words like "lockdown" and "active shooter."

Alyssa said she realized the word shooter is incorrect, but at the time that was the term being use.

Later in the trial, two students were called to the stand. One was in the student union and the other was coming from the humanities building.

Kristi Houke said she saw a man but did not see a gun. Brooke said she saw a man with a gun on the front lawn of the Student Union.

Brooke said she was unable to identify the man, though. She said she was confused at first and then felt scared when the emergency alert text came in.

Lt. Bobby Duff was also called to the stand to discuss the alert system and what he did during the incident.

Duff said he approached the truck and Bartelt rolled out of the driver's side. He said he thought there would be a gun fight.

The prosecution showed Duff's body camera footage from the day of the incident.

It started when Duff saw Bartelt outside and ended when Bartelt was taken into custody.

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