HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — Two men, including a former police officer, have been acquitted in the slayings of two western Kentucky brothel workers 22 years ago.

A jury on Wednesday acquitted Ed Carter and Frank Black of murder in the cold-case deaths of 18-year-old Gloria Ross and 22-year-old Candace Belt, the Kentucky New Era reported (http://bit.ly/2cHSbgV). The women were shot and stabbed at New Life Massage Parlor in Oak Grove in September 1994.

Prosecutors said Carter, 46, was an Oak Grove police officer who was seeing a prostitute and taking money from the brothel’s owners. Black, 42, lived in Clarksville and worked at a Nashville hotel. The two were charged in 2013.

Upon hearing the verdict from the judge, Carter gasped and began crying, burying his face into the embrace of one of his attorneys.

The murder weapons were never found, DNA evidence failed to incriminate any of the defendants and prosecutors did not present any evidence linking Carter and Black to each other.

Authorities also lost evidence over the years, including audio in which a Clarksville man, Vincent Hopper, told police he went with Black to the brothel on the night of the slayings and waited outside while Black entered.

Carter’s attorney Michael Bufkin told the jurors the case was based on suspicion and Carter’s personal shortcomings, not evidence.

“Ed Carter is not on trial for being a bad cop. He’s not on trial for being a bad husband. He’s not on trial for being at a place he wasn’t wanted,” Bufkin said.

A third defendant, former Oak Grove police detective Leslie Duncan, had been charged with complicity to murder after being accused of concealing evidence, but a judge dropped the charges Tuesday.


Information from: Kentucky New Era, http://www.kentuckynewera.com