Cops: After public denial, cousin says he killed DeKalb high schooler

Keschon Kerns, left, and cousin Jamal Kerns

Keschon Kerns, left, and cousin Jamal Kerns

After his younger cousin was found shot dead, Jamal Kerns spoke with the press, wondering aloud what could’ve happened.

He said his grandfather had woken him up after discovering 18-year-old Southwest DeKalb High student Keschon Kerns in the driveway. Jamal Kerns, 20, described the sight of his slain cousin as overwhelming.

“I was just trying to think what happened and who did it,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution two days later. “I loved him to death, man.”

Now DeKalb police say the cousin has admitted he was the one who pulled the trigger on May 21. He’s charged with murder.

A key question persists: why?

Detectives don’t have a motive, a police department spokesman said Tuesday.

The suspect’s twin, Jamel Kerns, said he was confused when told by the AJC about the alleged confession.

“If (he said that), then I don’t know what to say,” Jamel said Tuesday. “That’s shocking.”

According to police, Jamal Kerns' admission came while detectives were questioning him about another shooting. He's accused of shooting an acquaintance in the head last week, causing the man to have a metal plate implanted in his skull.

In the interrogation, Jamal Kerns also told police where he hid the 9mm used to shoot Keschon Kerns three times, a warrant said.

Jamel Kerns said he’s incredulous his brother would say or do any of these things.

He said he doesn’t know of any conflict between the victim and suspect, other than “innocent teenage stuff,” such as arguing over video games.

The alibi

Jamal and Jamel Kerns told the AJC they were out at a hookah bar the night before the body turned up. They lived at the house with Keschon Kerns and their grandfather.

Jamel Kerns said Keschon Kerns was playing a video game when they left the home on Harvest Hill Court off Wesley Chapel Road.

A neighbor later told police they heard five gunshots at 10:30 or 11 p.m.

The brothers said they didn’t come home until 3 or 4 a.m. Both said they didn’t see their cousin in the darkened driveway.

Jamel Kerns said he fell asleep at about 4:30 a.m., and believes his brother was in his own room in bed at the same time.

The discovery

Jamel Kerns told police his grandfather went to wake Keschon Kerns up for work at about 7:50 a.m. and then found him in the driveway, according to a police report.

The 18-year-old had three gunshot wounds — one each to the left wrist, shoulder and back. He lay in front of the grandfather’s Honda Accord, with his hands held together near his face and Nike sandals off his feet.

“All we know is he was murdered,” Jamal Kerns, who is now in jail without bond, told the AJC two days later.

He described the victim as "just all about fun, just having a good time.”

Jamel Kerns said the victim was “always a joking person” and “always laughing” — not the type to have enemies.

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