A former Knox County Schools teacher and Inskip Elementary shooter's guilty plea was formally accepted in a court hearing today.
Former Inskip Elementary instructor Mark Stephen Foster pled guilty on Sept. 9 to five charges: two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of employing a firearm during a dangerous felony, and one count of carrying a weapon on school grounds.
Foster's guilty pleas were accepted today by Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee after hearing testimony from Foster's victims, witnesses to the shootings, and a Knoxville Police Department investigator.
But the first order of business was not whether to accept Foster's plea, but instead whether to consider challenges to a court order limiting media coverage of the hearing.
On Friday, Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz signed an order submitted by prosecutors barring reporters from taking video, audio, or photographs of former Inskip Elementary Assistant Principal Amy Brace and current Principal Elisa Luna, both shooting victims who were expected to testify during the hearing.
Despite motions to challenge the order from local media outlets, McGee upheld the order Monday, citing documents filed by the wheelchair-bound Luna claiming the negative impact to her health caused by the stress of facing Foster in court would be further magnified by having the event recorded.
Testimony at the hearing painted Foster as calm and deliberate as a calm and deliberate both before and immediately after the shootings, which occurred shortly following a staff meeting in which Foster was informed that his contract would not be renewed.
After learning of his dismissal, Foster retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and returned to the school offices. Foster shot both victims twice, once each initially, and once each after they fell.
Foster will be sentenced at a hearing on Nov. 3.