The Death of Wayne Mills 6 Weeks After (Update & Analysis)

January 7, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  19 Comments

wayne-mills-2It has now been six weeks since the shooting death of country music artist Wayne Mills on November 23rd, 2013 at the Pit & Barrel bar in Nashville by Chris Ferrell—the owner of the Pit & Barrel, and the defendant in the case that claims self-defense, and is currently facing 2nd Degree Murder charges brought down by a Grand Jury on December 6th. Ferrel was released on bail on December 16th.

The case has now entered a period where information and progress might be slow, as prosecutors and the defense try to decipher if the matter can be settled with or without a trial. Fans of Wayne Mills may be frustrated by the lack of progress or information, but as Saving Country Music has found out after talking with numerous legal experts, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, and the Davidson County Criminal Court, it could take many months, or even longer for the case against Chris Ferrell to resolve, and the killing of Wayne Mills to come to a close.

The next court date for the defendant Chris Ferrell is January 16th in front of Judge Steve Dozier at 9 AM at the Birch Building in Nashville. The date is not considered a pretrial hearing, but a “discussion date” by the court—a procedural court appearance that happens roughly every 4 to 5 weeks during a pending criminal case to determine and update what the status of the case is with the court and all parties.

If new evidence is discovered, a “discovery” date could be filed with the court where the new information would be submitted into the criminal process. A similar instance happened when Chris Ferrell had his bond reduction hearing on December 16th, and a bullet lodged in the wall of the Pit & Barrel not initially discovered by police investigators, but a private investigator hired by Ferrell, was submitted into evidence. Discovery dates are not set on a specific timeline, but transpire if and when a new discovery is made and the date can be set by the courts.

As far as how long it could be before there is a trial set for Chris Ferrell, Susan Niland of the District Attorney’s office says, “You can’t even ballpark how long it could take for a trial to be set.” A lot depends on scheduling between the courts, prosecutors, and the defense attorneys. Since there is only one defendant in the case, it may not take as long as if there were multiple defendants with multiple attorneys.

Chris Ferrell Mug Shot from Previous Arrest

Chris Ferrell Mug Shot from Previous Arrest

But a trial may not happen at all. “Each side tries to set a resolution,” Susan Niland explains. “95% of cases resolve without a trial.” That means that Chris Ferrell could decide to plead guilty before the case could go to trial, could work out a deal with the prosecution, either to plead guilty to lesser charges, or to receive a lesser sentence by settling without a trial. Because of the severity of the charges, murder cases tend to go to trial more often, but it can’t be assumed a trial will happen in this case.

As Susan Niland explains, if every case brought by District Attorneys resulted in a trial, the courts would be backed up for decades. It is usually the goal of District Attorneys to settle cases without a trial. It is usually the desire of defendants to settle without a trial as well because a trial is a costly endeavor for a defendant. However if Chris Ferrell believes he is completely innocent of the charges, he may decide to go the trial route. A trial may be the only way Ferrell could fully exonerate himself from the charges, as opposed to taking a plea down to lesser offenses or for a lesser sentence, barring any new evidence surfacing that proves his claim of self-defense and the charges are dropped. Likewise if prosecutors feel the 2nd Degree Murder charges are completely warranted and no deal for Ferrell is fair, the case may still end up at trial.

Prosecutors and the defense negotiate back and forth based on the evidence of the case, the potential motive, and however strong either side feels their case is.

Other Charges Against Chris Ferrell

At the discussion date on January 16th, other charges facing Chris Ferrell from a previous incident could also be brought up. Ferrell faces charges for “Vandalism Under $500,” “Domestic Assault with Bodily Injury,” and “Interference with a 911 Call” stemming from an incident on July 17th where alleged victim Stacey McCoy was allegedly attacked and assaulted by Ferrell. Ferrell broke the key to McCoy’s car and then tried to prevent her from calling 911. This case also resulted in a Grand Jury indictment that was handed down the same day the 2nd Degree Murder charges were brought against Ferrell on December 6th. The charges resulted in their own $2,500 bond, but aside from both cases involving the same defendant, the two cases are autonomous. All three charges in the domestic assault case are misdemeanors.

At one point, two of the three previous charges were reported as having been dismissed. Previously, the general court had decided to only bring the charge against Ferrell for vandalism, but when the matter was brought up to the Grand Jury, the Grand Jury decided to bring all three charges.

Wayne Mills Autopsy Report

Despite numerous reports that the autopsy has been concluded on Wayne Mills, according to the Medical Examiners office, as of today (1-7-14), the autopsy has yet to be concluded. The Medical Examiner estimates it to take 8 to 14 weeks for the autopsy to be concluded, and a report to be filed. The lack of a completed autopsy report also could factor in the progress of either a settlement or a trial.

Other Questions

Besides the misidentification of Wayne as another songwriter Clayton Mills for nearly 10 hours into the investigation that resulted in Wayne’s widow being unable to see the singer before he died, the information on how and where the killing transpired, and where the witnesses were in proximity to the killing leaves many questions. Initial reports said the killing happened inside the Pit & Barrel, and people outside that had left the bar right before the shooting occurred heard gunshots and called the police. But the information that came out during Chris Ferrell’s bond reduction hearing was the Chris Ferrell himself was the one that made the initial 911 call, though outside witnesses could have made subsequent 911 calls.

Also during the bond reduction hearing, The Tennessean reports that “Police found a trail of blood from the parking lot to just inside the front door, where Mills lay, breathing but unconscious.” This statement seems to allude that Mills could have been shot outside the bar, not inside. But Mills could have been shot inside the bar initially, attempted to exit the bar, and then turned around as he started to bleed. However this could have put any witnesses outside in more direct contact with the altercation than the initial reports suggested. Saving Country Music has obtained copies of both indictments from the Grand Jury, from the 2nd Degree Murder charge, and the multiple charges from the domestic assault incident in July. Names of three separate witnesses to the shooting that are not members of the Nashville Police Department are listed in the indictment.

Witnesses & Motive

The Tennessean report from Chris Ferrell’s bond hearing also states, “Ferrell testified that he posed for a group photo at 4:08 a.m. alongside Mills, musician Shooter Jennings, and others. The crowd had dissipated by the time he called 911 to report the shooting at 4:56 a.m.” Shooter Jennings reportedly left roughly 5 minutes before the killing, and is not listed in the 2nd Degree Murder indictment as a direct witness. The other witnesses stated they had cleared out of the Pit & Barrel before the killing occurred. But that doesn’t mean that Jennings and the other witnesses do not have further information that could be important to the case.

The physical evidence from the crime scene is an important element, but if the prosecution is to going to refute that Chris Ferrell acted in self-defense, they must establish a motive of why Chris Ferrell purposely wanted or tried to hurt and/or kill Wayne Mills. These witnesses may have more information on the moments before the killing that could help establish a motive. If the killing was somehow an accident, Chris Ferrell could still be responsible, but the killing may not fall under the jurisdiction of 2nd Degree Murder, but a less-severe manslaughter charge.

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Fans of Wayne Mills may want justice and a quick resolution to the charges stemming from a killing, but murder cases can sometimes take years to resolve. And the Wayne Mills murder case seems to be an especially complex one.

19 Comments to “The Death of Wayne Mills 6 Weeks After (Update & Analysis)”

  • I would love for Shooter and his Manager to come fourth with info on this, they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.


    • I would like to find out what Shooter’s knowledge and/or involvement was, if any in this case too, as I would like to find this out about all the witnesses along with some additional clarifications about the crime scene and ultimately why Chris Ferrell shot Wayne Mills. But if Shooter Jennings is either a witness or part of the investigation directly or indirectly, it is probably best if he does not speak on a matter that is currently pending in a court of law. Doing so could potentially hurt the litigation or investigation. Our curiosity is not what is important here, it is eventually finding the truth.

      We all need to be patient and let this process play out, which will likely lead to many of our questions being answered. And if they are not, and people still feel some impropriety has occurred, then it will be the job of the public and the media to continue to ask those questions until they are answered. A lot of people believed Chris Ferrel would not be arrested and would not face any charges, and he eventually was, and did. As I explained above, this process could be very long, and we all need to understand and appreciate that.


      • I fear that this whole thing may end up like the George Zimmerman trial, with the defendant claiming that he shot in self-defense, and there being little evidence to determine whether or not that is true. Of course, it may be the case that Chris Ferrell’s life was actually threatened during the altercation, but we may never know for certain.


        • It is rarely fair to compare one criminal case against another, especially when those cases are in different states and are subject to different laws, but it is hard to not see the parallels in the two cases. I am no legal expert, nor did I pay rapt attention to the George Zimmerman trial, or the ridiculous and polarizing media coverage surrounding it. But from the outside looking in, when they charged Zimmerman with 2nd Degree Murder, I thought that is where they lost the case, even before it was tried. They also brought a Manslaughter charge, but it was the highest manslaughter charge. If they had charged Zimmerman with a lesser manslaughter charge, he would probably be in prison right now. Not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m not defending or attacking Zimmerman. But to me, the prosecutors bowed to public opinion and threw the book at him, instead of pursuing a charge they could convict off of. Not saying that’s going to happen here, but 2nd Degree Murder is a big charge to try and prove.


  • This is all just so sad. By all accounts from inside of the music community Mr. Mills was a stand up guy who was well loved and rspected. God bless his family and friends. I hope justice is served in this case. Life is fleeting, A line in a song by Larry Joe Taylor Comes to mind “the last thing we beleive in must take us to the other side, the last thing we’ll be seen in won’t survive. I gotta get out, I gotta get out, out of my way, my own way. Gotta lighten up and lose the gulit and focus on being alive we only get to choose how we live not how we die.” By all acounts Wayne Mills lived well and used his gifts. It’s ashamed he couldn’t had longer to share them with us.


  • Castor, and anyone else who has asked myself and others to come forth with information, I assure everyone that I have spoken in detail to the investigators about the events of the night Wayne died. But I also personally believe that speaking publicly about it, at this point, candidly and in detail could hurt the process underway. From what I can tell from the detectives I’ve spoken to, they’re working hard to piece together what happened. I, nor my friends, were there when the actual incident occurred and cannot truly have any answers as to what happened in the moments leading up to it. Just please respect the process — and I’m doing everything personally to understand why such a horrible thing would happen and want to know myself more than anyone. Wayne’s family were terrible victims here and his fans feel that pain because of their love of his music and their loss of his talent. Until this case building is over, I just don’t feel it wise to make a public record. Hope you all can understand…


    • Rightly so Shooter.


    • Thanks for your input, Shooter.

      This whole incident makes me sadder each time I read about it.


    • I just read the autopsy report that was posted on this site…in my opinion with the other injuries that Wayne had broken ribs etc.. This did not take place in five minutes.. And some of the people stated they had just walked out and had not been outside for more than a couple of minutes … Hell yes there is a rat … Somebody knows more some one is hiding something… Shooter I know you are an honest man and you would do the right thing by Wayne or any one else that was your friend… I don’t think you are dishonest in any way and would take an oath on that… So please don’t think that at all… I did not know Wayne as well as some of you did we have thrown a few back over the years and knew each other and I still called him friend… But what I do know is this… People loved that man like a brother he had a family that loved him and miss him every minute of everyday … I am 99.9% positive some one knows something more that will help authorities in the case and justice or closer will be done… One thing for sure he was shot in the back of the head so he did not see it coming … And if Ferrel was in fear of his life as he said he a fu£{\ng coward that’s for sure and 2nd degree murder is wrong.. He shot him in the back of the head Wayne could not see him therefore he was behind him Ferrel could have walked away… Coward deserves freakin death sentence as for as I’m concerned … Shooter brother … I love your music love your momma and your daddy’s music and I am a fan… Thank you for being you brother and hopefully our paths will cross on the road again some day… God Bless Wayne’s family and friends we will miss him… Much love to all


  • Thank you for all this information Trigger. This is so sad. What else can we do but let the lawyers and investigators do their job. When it comes to Wayne receiving justice, we can scream all we want, we really are powerless. It is interesting that Wayne was not immediately identified after he was shot. Who knows what he could have told his wife in his own defense. Well, what are you gonna do?


  • He murdered and then misidentified a great man with whom he’d been with all night. The shooting occurred in a BAR! Shouldn’t there have been a toxicology report performed on this jackass!?!? If I were to get into an automobile and kill someone in an accident, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere other than with the police to have a toxicology report performed on myself. Gave him a lot of time do to “whatever” it was he needed to do that day. I’m no criminal justice expert, but that just seems a little out of the ordinary to me. Surely, I’m not the only person with that opinion.


    • I have been unable to confirm or deny whether a toxicology report was ordered or performed on Chris Ferrell by police, but there has been no mention of one. When the autopsy of Wayne Mills comes back, whatever substances that were in his system at the time will be a matter of public record. It seems only fair that Chris Ferrell would be put under the same scrutiny.


  • So many times the investigators allow minor bits of evidence to never see the light of day because they think they are the only ones word that counts, biased or unbiased.
    My thoughts are the victim and the accused in any serious case should be tested in the same manner, not letting that very important evidence slip through.
    I am not speaking of this case, I am only reading your reports and watching with interest because I am an artist and have been in some places just like Shooter was, knowing nothing was going on until I read about it days or weeks later.
    I however am always amazed when professionals evidence collection is so messy that no one gets a fair or honest deal. We’ll be watching and my thoughts and concerns will be of the family of Mister Mills who will suffer the most, regardless of who is right or wrong in the end. thanks for the coverage.


  • Of course you’re not the only one who smells a rat. From where I am sitting, it appears that if the police had their way, this guy would have gotten away with murder.
    I am not saying that is an absolute truth, I am saying based on all that I’ve read so far, that is my personal conclusion.


  • Thanks for speaking up, Shooter. I still can’t process the fact our Big Brother is gone. I hope justice prevails soon, and helps to give some closure to Carol, Jack, his family and friends as well.


  • Shooter, I totally understand. We have a similar case in our family with a new trial in a few weeks. The first trial was a mistrial because of all the public sentiment and comments in the newspapers.

    You can’t say anything until the trial is over and the verdict stands up. You can’t say all and tell all to satisfy the public. It could jeopardize the case, “bias a jury”, mistrial and destroy witness testimonies. The less said the better until it’s over.


  • Thank you for a well-done article. Autopsy report says he was shot in the back of the head. Ferrell’s self-defense argument just flew out the window. Please keep us posted. God bless Wayne’s family and friends.


  • Looks to me like he’s a frickin’ coward. Self defense when a person is walking away from you? Really? So you just shoot him in the back of the head?….that right there, is pure cowardly behavior. Or perhaps drunken behavior, either way, there’s no excuse! Except for this bullshit ‘stand your ground’ garbage. That law is just a ‘license to kill’ law. And so far, many have gotten away with murder because of it. How much longer are we supposed to let this stuff happen, before somebody has the guts to say enough!


    • Nowhere in this case have I seen anyone cite “stand your ground” laws. Maybe it will come up in the future, but at the moment, the particulars of the altercation aren’t known enough in public to even make the determination of it is a “stand your ground” case or not. If it was, this would have likely come out in court at least in passing by now.


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