Nobody covers Brown County like The Democrat Buy PDF| Advertise| Contact Us
Hoosier Harvest Cookbook
 
Latest News
 
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 »

Dale Clinton 'Mike' David, 90, Nashville
  Father of Dennis P. David and Mark A. David, both of Nashville

Barbara Ann Frank Sheehan, 71, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
  Former resident of Brown County

Phillip Michael 'Mike' Mathis, 63, Nashville
  Brother of Cathy (Steve) Junken and Melanie (Darian) McBride, both of Nashville

  • August 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 4
    Brown County Council
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • August 4
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • August 4
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 6
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • August 6
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 6
    'Jurassic World' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 7
    'Ghostbusters' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    'Jurassic World' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 8
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • August 8
    Tribute to John Denver at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Donations accepted for Habitat garage sale
    9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • August 9
    'Jurassic World' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 10
    Beeline beekeepers club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 11
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • August 11
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 12
    BC Local Emergency Planning Committee
    9 a.m. EMS Building, 53 State Road 46 East
  • August 12
    Blood drive scheduled at Parkview church
    2 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 12
    BC Emergency Management Advisory Council
    8 a.m. EMS Building, 53 State Road 46 East
  • August 13
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 15
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • August 15
    TRIAD annual picnic at Parkview church
    11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 15
    Kingdom fest at Nashville church
    1 to 4 p.m. Nashville United Methodist Church, 36 S. Jefferson St.
  • August 18
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 23
    Live Baby Boomer music at tavern
    7 to 9 p.m. Pine Room, 51 E. Chestnut St.
  • August 24
    American history DVD set to air at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 24
    American history DVD set to air at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 6
    Read to dogs at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 18
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    4 to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 19
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg