Nobody covers Brown County like The Democrat Buy PDF| Advertise| Contact Us
 
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 »

Edward L. Lindley, 84, Greenwood
  Father of Eric (Patti) Lindley of Brown County

Barbara Frances Martin, 87, Seymour
  Brown County native

James Roger Hoskins, 80, Sebring, Florida
  Former resident of Nashville

  • October 23
    Go Club at the library
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 23
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • October 23
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artists Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • October 23
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • October 23
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Brown County Intermediate School, 260 Schoolhouse Lane
  • October 23
    Salt Creek Trail Committee — CANCELED
  • October 24
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 24
    YMCA pumpkin-carving contest
    before 6 p.m. YMCA, 105 Willow St.
  • October 24
    Deadline for Mini 4-H fall party
    Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • October 24
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • October 24
    An Evening With the Artists planned at local gallery
    6 to 8:30 p.m. Brown County Art Gallery, 1 Artist Drive
  • October 24
    Murder mystery offered at T.C. Steele
    7:30 p.m. T.C. Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • October 24
    Nashville Feasibility Study Committee
    2 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • October 25
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • October 25
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 25
    Shriners to host trap, still board shoots
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 6088 State Road 46 East
  • October 25
    Old-fashioned Halloween Fest
    6:30 to 8 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, state roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • October 25
    Free medical, dental and eye care offered
    8 a.m. to 1 p.m. YMCA, 105 Willow St.
  • October 25
    BCSP Halloween activities
    5 to 6 p.m., 8 to 10 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • October 25
    Live dinner show at dance barn
    6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • October 26
    Storytellers to compete in Tall Tale Tell Off
    1 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 28
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 28
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    7 to 8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • October 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • October 29
    BC Board of Zoning Appeals
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 30
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • October 30
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 30
    B.C. Election Board
    1:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 30
    9th District candidate to meet public
    7 to 8:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 30
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m., 3 p.m. Artists Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • October 31
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 31
    Trick-or-Treat hours set for Nashville
    6 to 9 p.m. Nashville
  • October 31
    Deadline to RSVP for Brown County/Purdue Extension dinner meeting
  • November 1
    Annual chicken noodle dinner, craft bazaar at Christiansburg church
    4 to 7 p.m. Christiansburg United Methodist Church, 7372 S. Christianburg Road
  • November 1
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 1
    Annual craft, bake sale at Helmsburg church
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St.
  • November 1
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 1
    Annual bazaar, quilt raffle, bake sale, bean dinner
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Goshen Community Church, 2798 Gatesville Road, Bean Blossom
  • November 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • November 4
    Government offices CLOSED
  • November 5
    Woodworkers club
    7 p.m. Charlie Roush's Shop, 6987 Christianberg Road
  • November 5
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 6
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • November 6
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 6
    Salt Creek Trail Committee
    10 a.m. BC Parks & Rec. Office, 1001 Deer Run Lane
  • November 6
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artists Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 7
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • November 8
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • November 8
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • November 8
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 8
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 11
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 12
    Mandatory scholarship meeting at the high school
    6:30 p.m. Brown County High School, 235 School House Lane
  • November 12
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 13
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 14
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • November 15
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 15
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 18
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 19
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 20
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 23
    Nashville Reserve Officers host chili cook-off
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nashville P.D., 200 Hawthorne Drive
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road