Chris Michael Ferrell, the defendant facing 2nd Degree Murder charges in the November 23rd shooting death of country music artist Wayne Mills, was in the Davidson County District Court of Judge Steve Dozier in Nashville Friday (3-28) as part of a discussion date between the Davidson County District Attorneys and the defense. This was the first time the two sides had met in court since January 16th as part of a previous discussion date when some procedural matters dealing with Chris Ferrell’s bond were addressed. A previous discussion date of February 6th was not utilized because nether side had anything to broach in court. Discussion dates are not part of a criminal trial, but procedural court appearances that happen roughly every 4 to 6 weeks during a pending criminal case to determine and update what the status of the case is with the court and all parties.
According to the court clerk for Judge Dozier, very little was discussed or determined in today’s court proceedings, but a new discussion date of May 9th was set for the matter to proceed. A motion was made by the defense to remove GPS monitoring from Ferrell as a condition of his bond, but the judge did not rule on the motion either way. The case at the moment is in a period where the prosecution may be attempting to reach a plea deal with the defense in lieu of a trial, while the defense will be looking to strengthen their case and determine their best course of action.
“Each side tries to set a resolution,” Susan Niland of the Davidson County District Attorney’s office explains. “95% of cases resolve without a trial.” Though murder cases specifically are more likely to go to trial, there’s no guarantee that will happen in the case of Wayne Mills’ murder. This current period where there’s no trial, and no resolution in a case as the prosecution and defense try to find an amicable resolution is normal, and could extend for quite some time.“You can’t even ballpark how long it could take for a trial to be set,” says Susan Niland, if the case goes to trial at all.
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.
The autopsy report for Wayne Mills released on January 16th showed that the musician had been shot in the back of the head, and there was no powder burns that would indicate the shot was fired at close range. To fans and family of the deceased singer, this refutes Chris Ferrell’s claims of self-defense in the killing. The autopsy also revealed broken bones and other trauma Wayne Mills had suffered, and a slight testing for amphetamines that friends say was tied to an Adderall prescription.
After the killing, Chris Ferrell remained free for two weeks, until being indicted by a grand jury and turning himself into police. He was subsequently released and is currently free on a $150,000 bond.
Wayne Mills was shot and killed by Chris Ferrell at the Pit & Barrel Bar in Nashville—a bar that Chris Ferrell owned— at roughly 5 AM on November 23rd. The two men had been hanging out after the George Jones Tribute concert at the Bridgestone Arena earlier that night. Chris Ferrell called 911, and when police arrived, he claimed he shot Mills in self-defense. Though the first reports had the altercation starting because Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking section, Ferrell later said in court that Wayne had come to the bar to “rob and kill” him. Two guns were found at the scene when police arrived: an empty revolver and a semi-automatic handgun. A private investigator hired by Chris Ferrell—former city homicide detective Larry Flair—also found an additional bullet lodged in a wall of the Pit & Barrell. Subsequently, the bar has been liquidated.
Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for additional information on the continuing case of the death of Wayne Mills.