TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

September 23, 2013

Man who shot wife indicted

Ernest Chumbley claims he shot his cancer-stricken wife in an ‘assisted suicide’

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A man accused of murder in the shooting death of his wife was indicted by a Laurel County grand jury Friday.

Ernest Chris Chumbley, 48, of London, was officially indicted for murder after allegedly shooting his wife, 44-year-old Virginia Chumbley, on Aug. 28 — calling it an “assisted suicide.”

In a 911 recording obtained by The Times-Tribune through an open records request, Chumbley said his wife, who suffered from cancer, asked him to shoot her.

Law enforcement records indicate his wife was shot twice in the head and that he admitted to shooting her during a videotaped interview. It was learned through court testimony she was actually shot three times.

During a hearing earlier this month, District Judge W.L. Hammon’s denied Ernest Chumbley’s attorney, Conrad A. Cessna’s, request to dismiss the murder charge as well as his motion to have the charges amended to assisted suicide. Hammons also denied the defense’s request for bond reduction.

During the hearing, Cessna asked Laurel Sheriff’s Detective Charlie Loomis what happened when he arrived at the Chumbleys’ Greenlawn Subdivision home after Ernest Chumbley reported the shooting.

Loomis said the 911 call came in around 2:35 a.m. and the first officer arrived about 13 minutes later. Loomis got there at 3:11 a.m.  

“When I went into the bedroom, I observed the victim lying on the bed covered up about three quarters of the way,” Loomis testified. “I could see two gunshot wounds to the left cheek and later I discovered there was another one close to her nose.”

Loomis added that, “She was lying in a normal position on the bed, her body was straight and her head was turned to the side.”

He described the bedroom, explaining there was a table next to the bed with a small refrigerator on it. “On top of the fridge was a .32-caliber handgun with the slide locked back … no bullets were left in the magazine,” Loomis said, further explaining that one live round was also found under the covers in the bed beside his deceased wife.

Loomis said he interviewed Ernest Chumbley at the sheriff’s department after the arrest.

“He basically said he shot her two times in the face; he made that admission more than once,” the detective said. “He said she told him to.”

Loomis said the two were reportedly watching a movie when Virginia Chumbley reportedly made the decision.

Loomis said he asked Ernest Chumbley if the shooting was something he and his wife had discussed before that night, and Chumbley replied, “Not specific, no.”

Cessna also asked Loomis if he was aware of the victim’s health and if he knew she had cancer.

“I’m not fully apprised of her medical condition, but according to the preliminary results of the autopsy, she had polyps on her brain and the cancer was in her liver, but I don’t know where else; Mr. Chumbley had also told me she had breast cancer,” Loomis answered. Cessna then asked Loomis if he was aware that Virginia Chumbley had refused chemotherapy treatments and had refused hospice care.

“All I have to go by is from talking to other family members who said she had been undergoing treatments and was interested in taking treatments,” Loomis said, adding he had spoken to her sisters.

 After the preliminary hearing, Virginia Chumbley’s two sisters and her mother told The Times-Tribune they don’t believe her death was an assisted suicide.

Ernest Chumbley remains jailed in the Laurel County Correctional Center under a $200,000 cash bond.

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