Nobody covers Brown County like The Democrat Buy PDF| Advertise| Contact Us
Hoosier Harvest Cookbook
 
Latest News
 
Former Opry business manager found not guilty
Updated on: 01.31.14

The verdict is in: Not guilty on both counts.

A jury of Brown County residents determined that James D. Bowyer did not set fire to the Little Nashville Opry in 2009.

James D. Bowyer, 77, was charged in March 2012 with arson and arson with intent to defraud, both felonies. The Sept. 19, 2009 fire destroyed the 35-year-old country music venue west of Nashville.

Bowyer was the Opry’s business manager at the time.

The prosecution called approximately 40 witnesses over six days to show that Bowyer and the Opry were in financial trouble. Bowyer's finances were intertwined with the Opry's, said Prosecutor Jim Oliver. Bowyer stood to benefit from burning down the building, which was insured for more than $3 million.

Defense attorney John Boren of Martinsville said multiple people could have done it.

He called only one witness: A Paoli man who testified that he saw a car in the Opry parking lot as the building burned. The prosecution's witnesses had not mentioned that car.

The prosecution's burden was to erase any reasonable doubt that anyone but Bowyer set the fire.

Witnesses testified about the Opry owing more than $1.5 million in loans and operating expenses, and Bowyer and former Opry owner Esther Hamilton having significant gambling debts.

At the time of the fire, the five Opry banking accounts contained a total of about $8,500.

Witnesses for the prosecution reported that Bowyer did not earn a salary as business manager.

But Boren argued there was no guarantee Bowyer would get anything if the Opry burned. He said Hamilton's late son, Lincoln, was heir to the Opry and would have benefited.

Four promissory notes found in the fire rubble showed Bowyer would have been paid $300,000 if the Opry sold. A sale had recently fallen through.

No one associated with the Opry received a fire insurance payout. A judge ruled that the policy was void because more than 50 percent of the sprinkler system had been dismantled.

Boren also accused the ATF investigators of forming biases that prevented them from thoroughly investigating the fire.

Bowyer did not testify. Throughout the trial, he sat expressionless as both sides built their cases.

When the verdict was read, Bowyer held his head in his hand and cried.

Read more in the Feb. 5 Brown County Democrat.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Billy Ray Salmon, 88, Nashville
  Namesake of the County Office Building's Salmon Room

Clyde Allen Percifield “Junior”, 72, Martinsville
  Brother of Virginia White (husband, Kenny) of Helmsburg

Mary L. (Williamson) Pickerel, 92, Morgantown
  

  • April 19
    Art of poetry program for adults, teens
    2 to 4 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 19
    'Cinderella' musical at BCHS
    2 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • April 19
    'Cinderella' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 20
    Helmsburg Sewage Board
    7 p.m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • April 20
    BC Water Utility to elect two directors
    6 p.m., 7 p.m. Sprunica Elementary School, 3611 Sprunica Road
  • April 20
    BC Public Library Board of Trustees
    6 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 20
    Brown County Council
    6:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 21
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 21
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 21
    Nashville Development Review Commission hearing
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • April 21
    CSCD Board of Directors
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 21
    Art of poetry program for children
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 22
    BC Parks & Rec Board
    5:15 p.m. Parks & Rec Office, 1001 Deer Run Lane
  • April 22
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 23
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 23
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 23
    'McFarland, USA' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 23
    Morel Mushroom Festival kickoff at music park
    from 7 p.m. Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 24
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 24
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 24
    'McFarland, USA' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 24
    Annual library plant sale
    3 to 6 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 24
    Morel Mushroom Festival at music park
    9 a.m. to midnight Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 25
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 25
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • April 25
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 25
    Art classes set for fourth Saturdays at winery
    3 to 5 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 25
    Women invited for free day of pampering
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hope for Hearts Farm, 1005 State Road 45, 1 mile west of 135/Bean Blossom
  • April 25
    Youth art show award presentation
    1 to 5 p.m. BC Art Guild, 48 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 25
    Plant sale planned at state park
    9 a.m. until all sold Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 25
    Craft fair to support Brown County 4-H
    9 a.m. to 3 p.m. fairgrounds
  • April 25
    Annual library plant sale
    9 a.m. to noon Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 25
    Morel Mushroom Festival at music park
    9 a.m. to midnight Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    'McFarland, USA' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 26
    Morel Festival gospel service at music park
    10 a.m. Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 27
    BC Alcoholic Beverage Board
    11 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 30
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 30
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 1
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 1
    'Back to the Future' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 2
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • May 3
    Read to a therapy dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 7
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 9
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • May 9
    Open house conducted at New Song
    9 to 11 a.m. New Song Mission, 7202 Keith Donaldson Road, Freetown
  • May 14
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • May 16
    Historic site hosts outdoor art contest
    7 a.m. to 4 p.m. TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont