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Working to paint a picture of the crime scene, prosecutors introduced detailed testimony and graphic video Wednesday of the Rineyville home where two women were shot to death 42 months ago.
Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Shaw spent the majority of the second day of testimony in Brent Burke's murder trail by questioning Kentucky State Police Sgt. Matt Johnson, one of the investigators of the September 2007 double homicide on Waterfowl Loop.
Jurors watched a video recorded by Johnson as the officer narrated. Johnson said the tape documents how the scene looked when state police arrived hours after the shootings. The oldest of three children in the house called 911 the next afternoon to report the deaths.
Along with a diagram of the house's floor plan, Johnson discussed how and where the bodies were found.
The body of homeowner Karen Comer was shown on the kitchen floor. Her house guest and former daughter-in-law Tracy Burke was killed in a bedroom. Jurors also saw close-up photos of bodies as well as pictures from Burke’s autopsy, which was performed by William Ralston, who also testified Wednesday.
Shaw asked Johnson to explain numerous photos, including pictures of Comer and Burke's bodies and bullet holes throughout the house beginning at a glass patio door off the kitchen. That's where police say the assailant entered after killing Comer and one of the family's dogs.
Johnson showed photos of Brent Burke’s van and described a police search of it, which uncovered a receipt showing Burke purchased a gun holster and 9 mm bullets in the months before the shootings. The same caliber of bullets were found at the crime scene.
Shaw then asked Johnson to identify evidence found or obtained at the scene, which included Comer and Tracy Burke’s cellphones, bullet fragments and the clothing the two women were wearing. He also discussed a sexual assault kit performed on Burke's body.
Johnson said how troopers were called back to the house twice in the days after the killings. On two occasions, a company hired to clean the residence discovered shell casings overlooked by authorities.
Johnson will return to the stand today for more testimony and be cross examined by Brent Burke's new defense team. After two mistrials and a hung jury, Burke is now represented by William Carter and John J. Shaughnessy of Crestwood.
Kurt Comer, Karen's widower, also took the stand Wednesday in Hardin Circuit Court. He is a truck driver and explained how he was away for work on the day of the killings.
Comer said he called home several times without getting any answer, until he finally reached Tracy Burke’s oldest son Matthew, who told him what had transpired. The boy, then 9-years-old, called 911 after speaking with his grandfather.
Most of Comer’s testimony described his relationship with Tracy Burke, whom he said was like a daughter to him. He discussed ow she had and her three children had come to live in the Comer home. He and his wife helped Tracy move from her residence she shared with Brent Burke at Fort Campbell when the couple separated.
Comer said Tracy and Brent, an Army sergeant and military police officer, were close at the beginning of their relationship. By the end, he said, “they were at least civil when I was around."
Tracy Burke’s son Matthew returned to the stand Wednesday after testifying along with his younger half-brother Monday. Questions focused on the time when the shootings occurred.
Matthew, now 12, said he saw a clock on the microwave that said it was about 4 a.m. when he knew someone had broken into the house. Later, he saw on the television cable box that it was 6:57 a.m. after he had determined that the intruder was gone.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today in the Hardin County Justice Center.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or at email@example.com.