This story has been updated
Today (3-2-15) is the beginning of the 2nd Degree Murder trial of Christopher Ferrell in the shooting death of Wayne Mills in the court of Judge Steve Dozier in Nashville. Though Monday is to be primarily focused on jury selection, in pretrial motions before jury selection, some previously-unknown details about the case were revealed to the public, along with some of the stances the defense is likely to take in attempting to prove Chris Ferrell acted in self-defense. We also learned about some of the witnesses likely to be called in the trial.
Country music artist Jamey Johnson was in the gallery during the pretrial motions. Johnson was a close friend of Wayne Mills. The names of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert were also brought up briefly by the defense. Defense attorney David Raybin was concerned what the jury might think if either of these well-recognized stars walked into the courtroom and sat on the prosecution’s side. Both Shelton and Lambert have publicly supported Wayne Mills online through the investigation, and Blake Shelton was a friend of Mills. For the pretrial motions on Monday, only one individual was seated on the side delegated for friends and family of the defense, while the other side of the gallery was 2/3’rds full, including with Wayne’s widow, Carol Mills, and other family.
The defense let it be known they only intend to call one primary witness beyond Chris Ferrell himself—former police detective and private investigator Larry Flair. Mr. Flair was hired by the defense to investigate the crime scene after police, and found an extra bullet missed by investigators. The defense also said they reserved the right to call any of the prosecution’s witnesses. The prosecution made an attempt to block the defense from being able to call private investigator Larry Flair, or allow him to be only able to testify on certain matters. During the discussion, the defense explained that Mr. Flair would only be used to explain specifics of the crime scene, not the self-defense stance defendant Chris Ferrell has taken.
Also during pretrial discussion surrounding Mr. Flair, new details of the shooting were revealed. According to defense attorney David Raybin, there were three shots fired at Wayne Mills, the third striking the country music artist in the top of the head accidentally. Mr. Raybin claimed that Wayne Mills was screaming threats and obscenities at Chris Ferrell, and threw a glass, shattering it. In response, Chris Ferrell took out a .22 pistol, firing three times, trying to avoid Wayne, but trying to scare him off the premises. After the first two shots embedded into the wall, the third shot struck Wayne Mills as he turned to flee. Defense attorney Raybin says Mills’ height of 6’4″ put him where he was “in the way” of a bullet meant to go over his head.
Mr. Raybin’s comments were not testimony in the trial. They were simply an explanation of why private investigator Larry Flair should be allowed to testify. In the end, Mr. Flair was cleared to testify.
Mr. Raybin also alluded to the fact that Wayne Mills and Chris Ferrell had been together earlier that day at the Full Moon Saloon in Nashville—not far from both The Bridgestone Arena where the George Jones tribute was held, and the Pit & Barrel bar owned by Ferrell where the murder occurred.
It was also revealed that Jamey Johnson, along with Wayne’s widow Carol Mills, are expected to be called as witnesses by the prosecution. As soon as jury selection was ready to commence, Jamey Johnson was asked to leave by the prosecution, making it likely he will be called to testify. Johnson played numerous shows with Wayne Mills leading up to the night of the killing.The defense attempted to call into question Carol Mills’ presence for jury selection, but since it was her spouse that was killed, the Constitution allows her to be in court for all proceedings.
The prosecution also attempted to block the defense from being able to bring up how Chris Ferrell wore a bulletproof vest after the shooting because of the numerous death threats he received. There was also discussion about how potential charges may have come up in a police interview with Chris Ferrell after the shooting, whether it should be considered 2nd Degree Murder or Manslaugter, and the prosecution was vehement this should not be part of the case.
Jury selection then began in earnest.