Fourth mistrial for soldier accused of double murder - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fourth mistrial for soldier accused of double murder

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By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News    bhaeberle@fox41.com

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WDRB) -- A jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the fourth murder of a Fort Campbell soldier accused of killing two women.

After deliberating for more than 9 hours, jurors returned saying they were deadlocked. Judge Kelly Easton then declared a mistrial.

This is Burke's fourth mistrial and the second to end in a hung jury. The first two mistrials were declared after witnesses failed to come forward to testify.

Burke is accused of killing his estranged wife Tracy Burke and her former mother-in-law Karen Comer in Comer's home in Rineyville, KY.

At the time of the shootings, Tracy and Brent were involved in a bitter divorce.

During the trial, his fellow soldiers and brother-in-law testified Burke said he wouldn't care if Tracy were dead and that he had threatened her in the past.

But prosecutors failed to link any hard evidence to Burke.

Instead, they relied on testimony from Burke's son and stepson – who both said Burke was the gunman.

No murder weapon was ever found.

This is the second time a hung jury has caused a mistrial – the first two trials ended after witnesses failed to come forward.

Afterwards, Burkes parents were upset.

"How many times can they do this?" asked Irene Burke, Brent's mother. "How many time can Kentucky put him through this?

"This has been an astronomical burden on us financially. The commonwealth wants to break us. But they are not going to break our spirits," she said.

Stanley Burke, Brent's father, said: "We are going to go back to the drawing board ... next time we are hoping for some changes," but he declined to offer specifics.

Burke told police he was out car shopping on the night of murders.

His defense attorneys blamed the shootings on a teenager who bragged about the crimes.

Tonight both Burke's attorneys and prosecutors left without speaking to reporters.

The judge set a hearing date for April 26th to set a new trial date.

Brent Burke remains jailed on a $1 million bond. Stanley Burke said he wants his son's bond lowered.

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