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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 »

Max E. Carothers, 83, Brown County,
  

Timothy White, 52, Brown County
  Husband of Loretta (Meredith) White of Brown County

Curtis A. Martin, 35, Columbus
  Employee of Always Inn in Nashville

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    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • April 24
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 24
    'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' movie at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • April 24
    Brown County/ Purdue Extension Board
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  • April 24
    BCHS sports for Thursday
    4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Brown County High School
  • April 24
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 25
    Live music at sports bar
    7 to 9 p.m. Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • April 25
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 25
    Friends of the library plant sale
    3 to 6 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 25
    Game night at dance barn
    6 to 10 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
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    Earth Day at Bean Blossom farmers market
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • April 25
    Live music at Out of the Ordinary
    7 to 10 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
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    Congressman Young to meet at Nashville Town Hall
    10 to 11 a.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • April 25
    'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' movie at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • April 25
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 25
    Morel mushroom festival at Bill Monroe
    10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 25
    Live music at the Pine Room
    10:45 a.m., 1 p.m. 1008 McLary Road and Deer Run Park
  • April 25
    18th Girlfriend rummage sale at Brown County Inn
    8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46 East
  • April 26
    Arbor Day celebration at Brown County IGA gazebo
    10 a.m. to noon Brown County IGA, 30 Hawthorne Drive
  • April 26
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • April 26
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    6 p.m., 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • April 26
    Dance lessons at Out of the Ordinary
    7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 26
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    9 a.m. to noon Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 26
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    9 a.m. until sold out Brown County State Park Nature Center
  • April 26
    Harpeth Rising band at The Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • April 26
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    9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hope For Hearts Farm, 1005 State Road 45, Bean Blossom
  • April 26
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    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 26
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    10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 27
    Brown County Railroad gallery
    1-4 p.m. Three Story Hill at State Road 135 N., Fruitdale
  • April 27
    'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' movie at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • April 27
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    10 a.m. to noon Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
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    11 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
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    7 p.m. B.C. Community Church Annex, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • April 28
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    6 p.m., 7 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 29
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • April 30
    April Red Tent women's gathering
    6 to 9 p.m. 1156 Old State Road 46 East
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    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • May 1
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • May 1
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 1
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    3 p.m., 6 p.m. Helmsburg Elementary, 5378 Helmsburg Road
  • May 1
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    6:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
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    3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 2
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  • May 2
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    7 to 10 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 2
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    4 p.m., 7 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • May 2
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    9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Brown County 4-H Fairgrounds
  • May 3
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    11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • May 3
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    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • May 3
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    10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County State Park Nature Center
  • May 3
    Community wellness day at YMCA
    noon to 3 p.m. YMCA, 105 Willow St.
  • May 3
    Live band at 19th Hole sports bar
    8 to 11 p.m. Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • May 3
    Antique tractor, engine, and machinery show
    9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Brown County 4-H Fairgrounds
  • May 3
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    8:37 a.m. to 2:13 p.m. Whispering Pines Alpacas, Timber Crest Road
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    Brown County Railroad gallery
    1 to 4 p.m. 18 W. Three Story Hill (at State Road 135 N.) Fruitdale
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    2 to 3:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 4
    Antique tractor, engine, and machinery show
    9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brown County 4-H Fairgrounds
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    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • May 5
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    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
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    5:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
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  • May 6
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • May 6
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
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    5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
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    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
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    9:30 a.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
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    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
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    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
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    6:30 p.m. Brown County State Park Nature Center
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  • May 9
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    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • May 10
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • May 11
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    1 to 4 p.m. 18 W. Three Story Hill (at State Road 135 N.) Fruitdale
  • May 13
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    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive, (fairgrounds)
  • May 13
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    noon St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • May 14
    Thrive Alliance Board of Directors
    3:30 to 5 p.m. ACSSCI main office conference room, 1531 13th St., Suite G900, Columbus
  • May 15
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • May 16
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 17
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 17
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    9 p.m. to midnight Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 18
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    1 to 3:30 p.m. Deer Run Park
  • May 20
    Euchre
    6 p.m. 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 22
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • May 27
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    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • May 29
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • June 14
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    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road