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Brother of murder suspect says brother confessed to him

HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The brother of a Harlan County murder suspect says his brother confessed to killing former Evarts Mayor Ronny King.

Ernie Shell turned the information over to police last month, and it led to the arrest of Shelby Shell, 29.

Wednesday, Ernie Shell talked to WYMT's Angela Sparkman about the decision.

"It hurts really bad," Ernie Shell said.

Ernie Shell's younger brother Shelby is in jail on murder charges. Police say he shot Ronny King and set his home on fire last month.

Ernie says almost one week after the crime, his brother confessed to him.

"I didn't want to believe it at first, but it's still hard for me to believe," said Ernie Shell.

Ernie Shell says he feared what his brother would do next, so he told police what his brother allegedly said. That led to Shelby Shell's arrest.

"That's not what we was raised to do. That was not moral. That was not what we wanted to do or raised to do, what we've been taught all our lives against," Ernie Shell said of Shelby Shell's alleged confession and his decision to tell police.

Ernie Shell says his brother had a hard childhood. "My brother could give you his shirt off his back. He could be the nicest, smartest, that ever was," he said.

However, Shelby Shell spent much of his adult life in prison.

"I think my brother is mentally ill," said Ernie Shell. "I rode around with my brother the night before he was arrested, and to be quite honest and frank with you, that was not my brother. That was more of a, something I don't know of," said Ernie Shell.

Shelby Shell has not had a mental evaluation in the case yet, but Ernie wants one.

"He literally snapped and that's my honest opinion. He had literally snapped. The mental illness had overtook him and there's no going back," said Ernie Shell.

In a jailhouse interview last month, Shelby Shell claimed he was innocent and blamed his brother for the arrest.

"I didn't do it, you know what I'm saying, they don't got no evidence on me, you know what I'm saying. I ain't done nothing," Shelby Shell said on February 25th.

"I love my brother, but I'm going to defend my brother the right way. I feel sorry for the King family and everything. Words can't really describe what's happened to both sides of the family," said Ernie Shell.

Shell wants to see his brother get help in jail.

Earlier this month, the judge sent the case against Shelby Shell to the Harlan County grand jury. Court officials say it has not been presented to the grand jury yet.


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