Judge Rules Wayne Mills Killer Won’t Receive New Trial, But An Appeal May Move Forward

Chris Ferrell at previous sentencing hearing on April 10th.
Chris Ferrell at previous sentencing hearing on April 10th.


Chris Michael Ferrell won’t receive a new trial in the shooting death of country music artist Wayne Mills. That was the decision Judge Steve Dozier of the Davidson County Criminal Court came to on Friday (5-29), despite the pleas of Ferrell’s defense attorney David Raybin. Mr. Raybin argued that jurors had not been instructed correctly on the specifics of self-defense laws, and on this basis his client should receive a new trial. Judge Dozier dismissed the concerns, and determined no new trial was in order. However the appeal process may be just beginning for the Ferrell defense.

Chris Ferrell was found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in the death of Wayne Mills on March 6th in a jury trial, and was sentenced to 20 mandatory years in prison on April 24th. After the guilty verdict was read, defense attorney David Raybin made it very clear he intended to appeal the case.

We will appeal this case through the court. We feel there is significant appellate issues in this case regarding self-defense, which is the center of our case. It’s easy for a lawyer to say we are going to appeal. I’ve been an attorney for 40 years and I’ve appealed many homicide cases. We feel very comfortable that this man will get a new trial, and a new day in court. He testified in his own defense that this was self-defense, and I stand by that decision … This case is not over. It will continue on.

Raybin said on Friday that the issue with jury instructions would be the basis for an appeal, reports Stacy Barchenger of The Tennessean.

The Difference Between a New Trial & Appeal

A motion for a new trial, like the one defense attorney David Raybin made in court on Friday, asks for the same case to be heard by a different jury. The judge must allow for the new trial, if there is reason for the court to believe the initial trial was unfair or incomplete. Jury misconduct, an error by the court, the discovery of new evidence, and other factors could result in a new trial being called.

An appeal of a case is a reexamination of the original case by the Court of Appeals. This could be asked for due to prejudicial error, including incorrect instructions given to a jury, lack of evidence, or ineffective assistance of counsel.

Judge Steve Dozier is known for having very few cases heard on appeal, but that doesn’t guarantee the case against Chris Ferrell won’t be taken up by the appeals court.

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Chris Ferrell shot and killed Wayne Mills on November 23rd, 2013, just before 5 AM after an altercation began when Mills lit a cigarette in the Pit & Barrel bar Chris Ferrell owned. The two men were in the bar during an after hours party when Chris Ferrell forcibly extinguished the cigarette Wayne Mills was smoking. This caused Wayne to act verbally hostile towards Ferrell, and Wayne threatened the bar owner. Then as Mills turned to leave, Ferrell pulled out a .22 pistol and shot three times, with the third bullet striking Mills in the back of the head. Wayne later died of his wound at the Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

The death of Wayne Mills rose to national attention fromthe songwriter’s friendship with many famous country stars, including Jamey Johnson, Blake Shelton, and recent The Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd.

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