Update on area murder cases


Court appearances scheduled for defendants

By Joe P. Asher - [email protected]



Michael Curtis


Kayla Curtis


Shelby Shell


Jody Cooper


Harlan County has seen its share of murder cases through the years, and several are currently making their way through the justice system.

The case involving Michael Curtis, 26, and Kayla Curtis, 30, began when a man, Tommy Ingersoll, went missing in March.

The Kentucky State Police opened a missing person’s case on Ingersoll on March 10 after his father reported him missing. Ingersoll was last seen at the Shell station in Baxter. Police said he left his home to go for a walk and never returned.

Kentucky State Police Det. Kevin Miller arrested Michael Curtis on March 22 and charged him with murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse. Kayla Curtis was arrested by Miller a day later on charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

According to a press release, Kentucky State Police Post 10 received information at approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 22 about possible human remains located in a wooded area off of Mountain Oaks Subdivision. Mountain Oaks Subdivision is located near the Cawood community. KSP troopers, detectives, and Harlan County Coroner Philip Bianchi and Deputy Coroner Jim Rich responded to the scene.

Michael and Kayla Curtis were indicted by the grand jury April 18 on charges including murder. The pair was arraigned in Harlan Circuit Court on April 21.

According to the indictments, Michael and Kayla Curtis engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to Tommy Ingersoll, causing his death.

Michael Curtis was indicted for murder, kidnapping with serious physical injury, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Kayla Curtis was indicted for murder, kidnapping with serious physical injury, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Michael Curtis’ next scheduled court date is a pre-trial conference on Jan. 18. Kayla Curtis is set to appear at a pre-trial conference on Nov. 16.

Also awaiting trial, Jody Cooper was charged in the shooting death of Damiano Delaney, which occurred in February of 2013.

Cooper, 28, was arrested along with a co-defendant, Justin Miller, in March of 2013.

Cooper and Miller were arrested following an investigation by Kentucky State Police into the shooting death of Delaney.

According to a previous report, Kentucky State Police Post 10 received a call in reference to a possible murder at 1413 HWY 522 at Rosspoint. Upon arrival units discovered Delaney deceased in the yard. Cooper and Miller were arrested at the scene and transported to the Harlan County Detention Center. KSP Public Affairs Officer Shane Jacobs said at the time the shooting was possibly drug-related and Delaney had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Cooper and Miller were arraigned in Harlan Circuit Court on March 7, 2013.

Cooper was arraigned on charges of murder, abuse of a corpse, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence. Miller was arraigned on charges of complicity to murder, first-degree facilitating a robbery and tampering with physical evidence.

According to an agreed order of dismissal issued by former Harlan Circuit Judge Henry Johnson, charges against Miller were dropped on Dec. 31, 2014.

According to the order of dismissal, Miller ran from the scene of the shooting to the residence of Skip Cooper to report Jody Cooper had shot Delaney. Skip Cooper made the 911 call to KSP, stating his brother, Jody Cooper, had shot a man at the house next to his. Skip stated that Justin Miller ran to his house and told him what happened. Miller gave a full statement to KSP of the events leading up to and including the shooting of Delaney. The events witnessed and described by Miller were corroborated by physical evidence.

The order of dismissal also states Miller shall testify truthfully against Jody Cooper at trial.

Cooper’s next court date in the matter is a pre-trial conference scheduled for Oct. 20.

Shelby Shell, 33, of Berea, is awaiting trial in the death of former Evarts mayor and council member Ronnie King.

According to a previous report, the criminal complaint sworn out by Kentucky State Police Lt. Jason Adams states Shelby Shell unlawfully entered Ronnie King’s residence and shot him in the head. Shell then allegedly bound Ronnie King’s hands and feet with duct tape. Shell then set fire to the residence in an attempt to destroy or remove evidence from the scene. The complaint also states Shell entered the home in possession of a firearm.

Shell faces multiple charges including murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson, kidnapping of an adult, tampering with physical evidence and first-degree burglary.

In addition to awaiting trial on charges including murder stemming from the death of former Evarts mayor and council member Ronnie King, Shell is currently serving a 10-year sentence for first-degree promoting contraband and persistent felony offender.

Shell is next scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 3 for a status hearing.

Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde

Michael Curtis
http://harlandaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_MichaelCurtis.jpgMichael Curtis

Kayla Curtis
http://harlandaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_KaylaCurtis.jpgKayla Curtis

Shelby Shell
http://harlandaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_ShelbyShell.jpgShelby Shell

Jody Cooper
http://harlandaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_JodyCooper.jpgJody Cooper
Court appearances scheduled for defendants

By Joe P. Asher

[email protected]

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