Update: Judge declares mistrial in Harlan County murder case

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HARLAN/BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Update Thursday 11:30 p.m.

A judge has declared a mistrial in the Shelby Shell murder case.

Thursday morning at 9 a.m. the defense continued calling witnesses to the stand including Evarts Fire Chief Cledo Powers, a woman who once worked with Ernie Shell, and Jessica Wells, an investigator for the defense.

More evidence was brought forth for the jury, including phone records and payroll of Shelby Shell.

The defense closed around 11 a.m. and closing arguments began.

In closing arguments, Laura Karem with the defense claimed former detective Michael Cornett stopped his investigation after interviewing Ernie Shell and James "Jimbo" Collins.

After closing arguments the jury began deliberating shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Two hours later, the jury came back into the courtroom and said they could not reach a verdict.

Harlan County Circuit Court Judge Kent Hendrickson sent the jury back to deliberate, to try to go over the evidence again and reach a verdict.

At around 10:50 p.m.the jury came back in to say they still could not reach a verdict, and Judge Hendrickson declared a mistrial.

The jury count was 6-6.

Wednesday Update

The Commonwealth of Kentucky called former Kentucky State Police detective Michael Cornett to the stand once more, with more pictures of evidence taken from Shelby Shell's possession.

A video of an interview WYMT did in 2013 was played and Cornett was questioned if it had any sway in his decision to connect Shelby Shell to the murder of Ronnie King.

In cross-examination, the defense played surveillance video from the funeral home across from Ronnie King's house. While playing the video for Cornett, they asked if he could identify anyone in it, to which he said no.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the Commonwealth of Kentucky rested and the defense began calling witnesses.

The defense called in to question if Shelby Shell's brother Ernie Shell, who testified on Tuesday was a credible witness. In doing so, Shelby and Ernie's uncle John Paul Madden, their sister Amber Madden, and Pamela Stidham, who once lived with Ernie Shell were called to the stand.

The trial will continue tomorrow with more witnesses from the defense on Thursday at 9 a.m.

b>Tuesday Update

At 8:30 a.m., the jury heard from several more witnesses.

The witnesses included an aunt and nephew of Ronnie King, Shelby Shell's brother a former Kentucky State Police detective, and others.

Items from the homes of both Shelby Shell and Ronnie King were presented from former Kentucky State Police detectives as evidence, as well.

One witness, James Collins, a friend of Shell's presented a voice recording of a phone call between him and Shell talking about the murder of King.

The trial will continue Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.

Monday Update

Opening statements along with witness testimony began 10:30 a.m.

Former Kentucky State Police detectives, a coroner, and arson investigators gave their testimony. During which time, pictures of the crime scene and diagrams of the home were presented.

The jury is set to meet again on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. for continued witness testimony.

Thursday Update

The jury selection began on Thursday at 9 a.m. in Pineville, at the Farmer Helton Judicial Center.

After a break shortly after noon that ended at 2:30, the jurors were narrowed down and everyone else in gallery dismissed.

Harlan County Circuit Court Judge Kent Hendrickson says the trial will resume on Monday at 10:30 a.m., where evidence will begin being presented to the jury.

Original Story

A man accused of murdering a former Evarts mayor had his trial moved to a different county.

Originally, Shelby Shell's murder trial was set to begin today in Harlan County Circuit Court.

It will now be in Bell County Circuit Court starting Thursday after a change of venue.

Police said in February 2013, Shell murdered Ronnie King, a former Evarts mayor, and set his house on fire.

King's body was found after the fire was put out.

In a jailhouse interview with WYMT just after his arrest, Shell claimed he was innocent.

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