Christopher Michael Ferrell has been found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in the shooting death of country music artist Wayne Mills. The verdict was read by the jury at 3:25 p.m. in the court of Judge Steve Dozier. It took the jury just over two hours of deliberations to come to the verdict. Chris Ferrell will be sentenced on April 10th. He faces 15 to 25 years of a mandatory sentence for the crime. Because of the ruling, Ferrell’s bail was immediately revoked, and he was taken into custody. Ferrell showed little emotion when the verdict was read. The family of Wayne Mills was quiet, but clearly relieved by the verdict.
Chris Ferrell shot country music artist Wayne Mills at the Pit and Barrel bar Ferrell owned in Nashville on November 23rd, 2013. Wayne Mills was attending an after hours party at the Pit and Barrel when a dispute about smoking inside caused the two friends to get into a verbal argument. The argument escalated until Wayne Mills verbally threatened Chris Ferrell, and out of fear, the bar owner pulled a .22 pistol and shot three times, striking Wayne Mills in the back of the head with the third shot. Wayne Mills later died from his injury at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. The shooting happened on the same night of a George Jones tribute concert at the Bridgestone Arena.
From the beginning, Chris Ferrell claimed self-defense in the case, though he initially lied to investigators, saying that Wayne Mills pulled a gun on him. Then Ferrell took a .45 revolver and staged it at the crime scene to look like Wayne Mills had brandished the weapon. Ferrell later testified that it was actually Wayne’s cell phone he saw, and not a gun, and that Mills was unarmed. In fear, he lied to police. Wayne Mills had threatened to kill Ferrell right before the incident.
Chris Ferrell was later indicted by a Grand Jury on 2nd Degree Murder charges, but refused to plea down to a lesser offense, and instead decided to take the case to trial. Chris Ferrell hired noted Nashville defense lawyer David Raybin to defend him, and a private investigation firm led by former police detective Larry Flair to investigate the crime scene. Assistant District Attorneys Wesley King and Tammy Meade represented the prosecution in the case, and the lead detective was Leonard Peck.
“This whole thing was just tragic,” said Assistant District Attorney Wesley King as the prosecution exited the courtroom. “But at this point we’d like to go down and talk to the family and spend some time with them.”
The death of Wayne Mills became a matter of national attention because of the songwriter’s standing in the music community. Wayne Mills was a close friend of Jamey Johnson, was once a mentor to Blake Shelton, and to recent The Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd. The NBC singing competition aired a tribute to Wayne during the last season of the show. Wayne Mills was survived by his wife Carol, and a young son.
Saving Country Music will have additional thoughts on the verdict upcoming.