ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) - Seventeen people signed sworn statements that prosecutor Chris Shaw never consulted with them before he filed a motion to dismiss charges in what would be Brent Burke's fifth double murder trial.
On June 21, Shaw argued in court to Judge Kelly Mark Easton that he did consult them and that jurors told him another trial wouldn't have produced a verdict.
"The Commonwealth doesn't see any likelihood of achieving a unanimous verdict of the jury, based on what we're hearing from jurors," Shaw said in court.
Burke, a former Fort Campbell soldier, is accused of killing his estranged wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law, Karen Comer. According to their sworn statements, Shaw never contacted five of the 12 jurors in the last trial. One even says he even called and spoke to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff England to provide feedback, but nobody ever called him back.
"I do think that he argued to the court on Tuesday that he had spoken to jurors," said Carey Aldridge, attorney for the victims' families. "Lots of people left the courtroom believing he had interviewed the entire jury panel or at least the bulk of the jury panel and yet within 24 hours we've been able to uncover that he hadn't spoken to at least a third, over a third actually. So I think that arguably he presented that motion in bad faith."
The families are saying Shaw never consulted them before he decided to drop the charges, just notified them.
"I think there's so much animosity between the prosecutor and the families at this stage that they are concerned about his willingness to effectively prosecute the case," said Aldridge. "Thus we've asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor."
There are 17 sworn statements from family members saying they were not consulted, but an affidavit from England says the Commonwealth has been in contact with the victims "notifying them of the proceedings, their nature and the ramifications of the proceedings, including all trials, plea negotiations and evidentiary issues"
England also stated in March 2011 that Vanessa Pete, the stepmother of the oldest child in the home the night of the shootings, didn't want her son to testify again.
"He twisted my words," said Pete after Tuesday's hearing. "What I said to him before the last trial was please get this right."
WAVE 3 stopped by Shaw's office, but he was not there. He has not called WAVE 3 back once in two years on this case.
Judge Easton is taking the motions under advisement and could make a decision this week.