Elizabethtown, KY - Posted by Charles Gazaway - email
ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) – The third trial of Brent Burke has ended the same way the first two trials did - in a mistrial.
After listening to testimony for six weeks, the jury returned to the courtroom around 10:25 p.m. and told Judge Janet Coleman they were unable to reach a verdict. Coleman ruled the jury as deadlocked, declared the mistrial and dismissed the jurors.
Burke, a former Army sergeant and military policeman at Fort Campbell, was on trial for the September 11, 2007 murders of his ex-wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law, Karen Comer, at Comer's Rineyville home. Both of the previous attempts to convict Burke ended in mistrials.
In addition to the murder charges, Burke was also charged with wanton endangerment, one count for each of the three children in the house, and animal cruelty for shooting a dog.
The jury received the case around 12:30 p.m. and deliberated nearly 10 hours. During their deliberations, the jurors asked to review the 9-1-1 calls one of the children made after the shootings as well as the crime scene video and testimony of the middle child.
For 40 minutes, the defense tried to persuade jurors that Burke was innocent, saying there's no physical evidence to tie him to the crime scene.
"There is no way in today's world that if Brent Burke did that there wouldn't be some evidence of Tracy or Karen on his person, on his shoes, on his clothes, in his van," said defense attorney David Broderick.
The prosecution explained Burke was with the military police and too smart for that, and also argued that he had hours to get rid of the evidence, but missed something - the kids. They testified Burke was the shooter.
"He left eyewitnesses alive," said prosecutor Chris Shaw. "The dog was shot. Who leaves the kids alive as eyewitnesses except the father?"
The prosecution brought up numerous witness statements, including one from a roommate who said Burke checked his estranged wife's MySpace page all the time. Shaw reminded jurors of an Army supervisor who said Burke told him he was going to shoot her and a friend whom Burke asked to lie about seeing her the night before.
"Innocent people don't ask people to lie for them," said Shaw.
The defense reminded jurors that the oldest boy called 9-1-1 and didn't say anything about Brent Burke being in the house, only said that it was a robber. They also challenged the time of the women's deaths by trying to discredit the Hardin County Deputy Coroner and used phone records to try to show Burke could not have made it from Clarksville, TN to Rineyville, KY and back in time to be at work by 6 a.m. Sept. 11, 2007.
The prosecution argued the defense was misinterpreting the records.
Prosecutors have not said if Burke will be tried for a fourth time.