Accused double murder's son testifies against him

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) - Dramatic testimony from two children who were inside a Rineyville house when their mother and another woman were shot and killed in 2007. Former Ft. Campbell soldier Brent Burke is charged with killing his estranged wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law Karen Comer.

The oldest child was just nine the night his mother was killed, and did not seem to have much trouble answering questions, but his younger brother seemed confused at times, especially when attorneys spoke to him like an adult. He started crying twice and the judge took two breaks.

On Sept. 11, 2007 the then 9-year-old boy called 911 after his mother and grandmother were shot and killed while he was in the house.

That boy, whose identity is being protected, is now 12 years old, told jurors he was on the couch that night and tried to hide.

"I heard glass shattering or just something shatter," he said. "I looked up and my grandma was on the floor saying, 'I'm dying.'"

Kentucky State Police Sgt. Matt Johnson testified earlier in the trial that someone shot through glass in the back door, shot a dog, and shot Comer - who is the boy's grandmother - twice. The boy said the shooter was wearing an old camouflaged jacket. He said the shooter asked him where the money was, and he pointed down the hallway. He said he never saw the man's face, but says he recognized his voice.

"It was Brent, of course. It was a little lower like somebody's trying to disguise his voice, to disguise a voice, but it was obvious it was him," the boy testified.

The boy identified Brent as Brent Burke, his stepfather.

The boy's younger brother, who was just four years old at the time, testified he was in his mother's bed that night, calling her "Mama Tracy." The younger boy said he did get a look at the killer's face

"Brent came in - my old dad," said the younger boy.

When Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Shaw asked what happened next, he replied: "Then he shoots Mama Tracy.

The boy said he saw Burke do it.

The child went on to say his "old father," Brent Burke, pushed him and he fell to the ground.

Shaw asked if he was close enough to see him and touch him.  The boy said yes.

The defense challenged the younger boy's memory. He said he didn't remember the clothing he was wearing, the time, or what the gun looked like. They also brought up inconsistencies between the boy's statements on the stand and what he had said in 2009, asking the judge to rule him incompetent.

Judge Janet Coleman will rule on it Thursday morning.

The defense also questioned if the boys were coached and stressed that the older child never actually saw the shooter's face.

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