FORT CAMPBELL — A military investigator heard evidence Thursday in the case of an Army soldier charged with the 2007 slayings of his estranged wife and her former mother-in-law to determine whether he should face a court-martial.
Efforts to try Sgt. Brent Burke, a military policeman at Fort Campbell, in civilian court in the Hardin County shooting deaths ended in two hung juries and two mistrials.
A civilian judge dismissed the charges against Burke after a prosecutor cited evidence problems with the case, but he left the door open for charges to be brought back. Less than two weeks later, the military charged Burke with two premeditated murder counts in the shooting deaths of Tracy Burke and Karen Comer at Comer's home in Rineyville, Ky.
The Article 32 hearing at the installation on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line is similar to a grand jury. Burke was at the hearing, along with his civilian and military attorneys.
Kentucky State Police Detective Larry Walker, who investigated the deaths, said at the hearing that police found Tracy Burke's three unharmed young children in the home with the bodies on Sept. 11, 2007. Walker said the Burkes were in the process of divorcing and she and the children were living with Comer at the time of the shootings.
He said Comer was found shot dead in the kitchen and Tracy Burke was found dead in a bedroom with gunshot wounds to the head and an arm.
Walker said police did not find shell casings during their search of the home, but some casings were later found by a cleaning crew. He said analysis of the casings showed all six shells were fired from the same gun, but police never found the gun.
Walker also said that there was no DNA evidence linking Brent Burke to the crime scene.
Walker said he spoke with Sgt. Burke after the shooting to determine where he was the night of the shooting, although he said he did not read Burke his Miranda rights. Burke attorneys objected to using the interview as evidence.
Two Fort Campbell emergency dispatchers were convicted of lying to federal agents after saying when they had last seen Burke on the night before the shootings.
Burke was placed in pre-trial confinement after the military charged him on July 8.