Nobody covers Brown County like The Democrat Buy PDF| Advertise| Contact Us
 
Latest News
 
Opry arson trial under way; jury not yet chosen
Updated on: 01.21.14

Sub-freezing temperatures and blowing snow prevented all of the 100 or so potential jurors from showing up to Brown Circuit Court Jan. 21, the first day of the Little Nashville Opry arson trial.

James D. Bowyer, 77, the former Opry business manager, is accused of using an ignitable liquid to burn down the country music venue the night of Sept. 19, 2009.

By the end of Day 1, a jury had not yet been seated. A majority of the jury pool will have to return Wednesday, Jan. 22 as Judge Judith Stewart, Prosecutor Jim Oliver and defense attorney John Boren continue the selection process.

Potential jurors completed a written questionnaire about their knowledge of Bowyer, the fire and witnesses that might testify. The attorneys chose to further question about 60 of the potential jurors in a separate courtroom, so their responses about what they knew would not taint the jury pool.

As of 4 p.m., seven of the 60 or so people questioned were excused.

Oliver said he hoped to have a jury seated by Wednesday afternoon.

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial.

After lunch on Day 1, a packed courtroom heard Oliver and Boren give “mini-opening statements."

Oliver said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives determined the fire was intentionally set on or near the stage. “The question is simply, who did it?” Oliver said. He pointed at Bowyer, saying he had the motive, the knowledge and the opportunity.

Boren said he intends to use cell phone records to show that Bowyer did not set the fire because he was not present when it started. The records will show who was there, he said.

The also prosecutor brought up the financial standing of the Opry, Bowyer and then-owner Esther Hamilton. Ticket sales were down and the building was deteriorating. Bowyer and Hamilton had significant gambling debts. The Opry had nearly sold, but financing fell through. With no hope of it selling, Oliver said the $3 million insurance policy provided plenty of motive.

Boren promised the trial would be better than any novel the potential jurors ever read. He said those chosen will be fortunate to serve as jurors, in part, because they will get to play sleuths. He said no one will know who started the Opry fire.

Read updates throughout the trial at www.bcdemocrat.com and on the Brown County Democrat's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brown-County-Democrat/58947961030.

More information will be published in the Jan. 29 paper.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Virgie Snyder, 87, Nashville
  Mother of Jack Snyder and Monna Huber of Nashville

Bertha Vaught, 94, Providence
  Spearsville native

Sylvia Hatmaker, 82, Mooresville
  Mother of Teresa Anderson of Nashville

  • July 13
    'Little Shop of Horrors' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • July 13
    Tracks workshop at BCSP Nature Center
    2 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 13
    CSVFD hosts pancake breakfast at clubhouse
    7:30 to 11:30 a.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • July 14
    BC Animal Control Board
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 14
    Beeline Beekeepers Club
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 14
    CSVFD Board of Directors
    7 p.m. CSVFD station, 101 Firehouse Road, Nineveh
  • July 14
    Monday at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m., 8 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 15
    Brown County Has Talent CANCELED
  • July 15
    Library Board of Trustees opens bids for entryway project
    2 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 15
    B.C. Convention & Visitors Bureau
    8:30 a.m. Cornerstone Inn, 54 Franklin St.
  • July 15
    Nashville Development Review Commission
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • July 15
    B.C. Board of Health
    7 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • July 15
    CSCD Board of Directors
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • July 16
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • July 16
    Wednesday at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m., 1 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 17
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • July 17
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 17
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 17
    CSVFD
    7:30 p.m. CSVFD station, 101 Firehouse Road, Nineveh
  • July 17
    Nashville Town Council
    6:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • July 17
    Thursday at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m., 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 18
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • July 18
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • July 18
    Friday at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m., 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 19
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • July 19
    Lake Lemon Conservancy District
    10 a.m. Riddle Point Park Shelter House, 7599 N. Tunnel Road, Unionville
  • July 19
    Saturday at BCSP
    10 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 20
    Forest ecosystem talk at BCSP Nature Center
    2 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 21
    B.C. Solid Waste Management District
    5:15 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • July 21
    Brown County Council
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • July 21
    Helmsburg Sewage Board
    7 p.m. B.C. Community Church Annex, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • July 21
    Monday at BCSP
    10 a.m., 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 22
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • July 22
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • July 22
    DVD at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 23
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • July 23
    BCCF volunteer fair and annual report
    4:30 to 6 p.m., 6 to 8 p.m. Seasons Conference Center, 560 State Road 46 East
  • July 23
    Board of Zoning Appeals
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • July 24
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • July 24
    Amphibian talk at BCSP Nature Center
    2 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • July 25
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • July 25
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • July 26
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • July 26
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • July 29
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • July 29
    "Godzilla" at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • July 31
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • August 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • August 9
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • August 9
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road