Shell accepts 20-year plea deal for King murder

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, March 11, 2020

An Evarts man accepted a 20-year plea deal on Tuesday during a Harlan Circuit Court final sentencing for the murder of former Evarts mayor Ronnie King in 2013 and separate hostage situation at the Harlan County Detention Center in 2014.

Shelby Shell, 36, of Berea, took the 20-year plea for the 2013 murder charges, while the kidnapping charges of two deputies at the detention center were amended as misdemeanors.

Harlan Circuit Court Judge Kent Hendrickson first declared the King murder case a mistrial after a hearing on March 14, 2019, with the jury count at 6-6. After hours of reviewing more evidence and listening to the arguments, the jury came back to say they still could not reach a verdict.

Shell was arrested by Kentucky State Police officers on Feb. 25, 2013, for the murder of the former Evarts mayor and council member.

According to a criminal complaint from former KSP Lt. Jason Adams, Shell unlawfully entered King’s home in possession of a firearm. Shell allegedly shot King in the head. He then bound King’s hands and feet before setting fire to the home, destroying the evidence.

Shell is charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first- and second-degree arson, kidnapping of an adult, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree burglary, possession of handgun by convicted felon and for being a persistent felony offender.

Shell currently has two full-cash bonds worth $1,000,000 and $10,000, respectively.