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Sides rest in Opry arson trial; deliberation to start Friday
Updated on: 01.30.14

The defense and prosecution finished presenting evidence on the same day in the Little Nashville Opry arson trial.

James D. Bowyer, the 77-year-old man accused of burning down the country music venue on Sept. 19, 2009, did not testify.

Throughout the trial, he mostly sat expressionless while listening to law enforcement officers and Opry patrons and employees talk about what led to him being charged with the crime.

Bowyer had a number of supporters in the gallery each day, and he could be overheard telling them during breaks that he did not burn down the Opry and that’s why he would not plead guilty and accept a deal.

Bowyer is the former Opry business manager. After a two-year investigation, he was arrested and charged with Class B felony arson and Class C felony arson with intent to defraud. Since then, he has been represented by Martinsville attorney John Boren.

Prosecutor Jim Oliver and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Wertz called more than 40 witnesses to the stand during six days.

Boren called one witness, Harvey Farr, a musician who testified about seeing an older-model car in the Opry parking lot as the building burned. Testimony wrapped up before 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Before the prosecution and defense rested, the jury heard from three agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Boren wanted to know why ATF agent John O’Boyle did not ask Lincoln Hamilton, the son of former Opry owner Esther Hamilton, about his whereabouts the night of the fire. The agent said he had learned that Lincoln had been out of town.

Boren focused on discrepancies among the ATF agents’ hand-written notes, official reports and depositions. He keyed in on a statement the agents said Bowyer had made, about whether he urinated behind the Opry building the night of the fire.

The agents stood their ground. They said Bowyer did not tell them he “may have” gone behind the building, as Boren suggested.

ATF agents Mark Geever and John Healey, as well as Det. Scott Southerland of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, testified about hearing Bowyer make the statement. Healey said that after about an hour of answering questions on Sept. 27, 2009, Bowyer agreed to take a break. Bowyer and the two ATF agents exited the interview room inside the Brown County Law Enforcement Center and entered a restroom across the hall. When they went back into the hallway, Bowyer told the officers about driving around to the back of the Opry.

Healey said Bowyer then stopped participating in the interview because he did not like the questioning, which he felt was accusatory.

Boren asked why the ATF agents did not use available audio and video equipment in the interview with his client. The agents said they were trained on documenting interviews via hand-written notes, and continue the practice today.

Boren pointed out that not recording the interview prevented him and the jury from hearing what Bowyer said.

Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart excused the jury Thursday afternoon. Jurors are to return at 9 a.m. Friday to hear closing arguments and final instructions before they begin deliberating.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Betty (Zink) Bailey, 86, Morgantown
  

John W. Dine, 61, Morgantown
  Husband of Anne (Alexander) Dine of Morgantown

Timothy Matthias Lenges, 41, Indianapolis
  Son of Peter J. and Jewell Faith (Corbin) Lenges of Sweetwater Lake, Nineveh

  • August 29
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 29
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • August 29
    Old Settlers and Antique Engine & Tractor show
    4:30 to 9:15 p.m. Brown County 4-H Fairgrounds
  • August 29
    Brown County Commissioners executive session
    8 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • August 29
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 30
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 30
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • August 30
    'The Hundred-Foot Journey' movie at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • August 30
    Wagler Dairy hosts fifth annual ice cream social
    4:30 to 8 p.m. Wagler Dairy, 7085 Homestead Road
  • August 30
    Salute to young Elvis at The Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • August 30
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 30
    CSLOA and firemen host ox roast
    11 a.m. to 7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • August 30
    Old Settlers and Antique Engine & Tractor show
    11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County 4-H Fairgrounds
  • August 31
    'The Hundred-Foot Journey' movie at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • August 31
    Labor Day weekend races at BC Dragway
    9 a.m, 11 a.m., 2 p.m. Brown County Dragway, 4396 W. Bransetter Road
  • September 1
    Labor Day weekend races at BC Dragway
    9 a.m, 11 a.m., 2 p.m. Brown County Dragway, 4396 W. Bransetter Road
  • September 1
    'The Hundred-Foot Journey' movie at the Playhouse
    1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren
  • September 2
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  • September 2
    B.C. 4-H Council
    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • September 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 2
    Chamber of Commerce
    8 a.m. Willow Manor, 72 Willow St.
  • September 2
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission CANCELED
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 2
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • September 3
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • September 3
    Nashville Technical Review Committee
    1 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 3
    Hamblen Fire Protection District
    7 p.m. Hamblen Fire Station, 4650 Sweetwater Trail, Nineveh
  • September 3
    BC SWCD
    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • September 3
    Brown County Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
    Woodworkers club
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 4
    Go Club at the library
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 4
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • September 4
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 4
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • September 4
    Nashville Town Council
    6:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 5
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 5
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • September 5
    Garden club plant sale at farmer's market
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • September 6
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 6
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • September 7
    Live fingerstyle at dance barn
    4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • September 8
    BC Animal Control Board
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 8
    Paper craft club organizes first meeting as part of county extension homemakers association
    5:30 p.m. Wishful Thinking, 150 Old School Way
  • September 9
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • September 9
    Friends of the Library: Author Perry to speak, sign books
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 9
    Chamber of Commerce
    8 a.m. Willow Manor, 72 Willow St.
  • September 10
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • September 11
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • September 11
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 11
    Nashville Arts & Entertainment Commission
    10 a.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 12
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 12
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • September 13
    Hoosier Hops and Harvest at Story Inn
    1 to 7 p.m. Story Inn, 6404 State Road 135 South
  • September 13
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 13
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • September 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • September 13
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • September 13
    Raptor center fundraiser at Abe Martin Lodge
    5 to 9 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • September 15
    BC Commission on Public Records
    2 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 16
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 18
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • September 18
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 19
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 19
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • September 20
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 20
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 2
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 11
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • October 11
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • October 25
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    5 to 6 p.m., 8 to 10 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East