In the early hours of November 23rd, 2013, outlaw-country artist Wayne Mills and his friend, bar owner Chris Ferrell, became engaged in an altercation in Ferrell’s Nashville bar, the Pit and Barrel. It ended with Ferrell pulling a .22 pistol and firing three shots, one of which hit the journeyman country singer in the back of the head.
On Friday, after a weeklong trial, a Nashville jury found Ferrell guilty of second-degree murder. The shooting occurred on the same night as a George Jones tribute concert at the nearby Bridgestone Arena, and as an after-party was wrapping up at the Pit and Barrel, a downtown saloon that had recently been made over for Spike TV’s reality series Bar Rescue. The episode was pulled after the incident and the bar has since been closed.
Ferrell claimed self-defense in the shooting, testifying he fired at Mills — the leader of the Wayne Mills Band — out of fear after the singer smashed a glass and threatened to kill the bar owner. Ferrell’s admission that he feared for his life wasn’t enough to persuade the jury, however. He will be sentenced April 10th.
A tireless touring act, Mills, 44, was well known throughout Nashville, where he settled in 2003. Following his death, stars like Dierks Bentley, Colt Ford and Blake Shelton, who once opened shows for Mills, all expressed sympathy on Twitter. Mills himself mentored many young artists, including Craig Wayne Boyd, the recent winner of The Voice.
During the trial, Mills’ friend Jamey Johnson was often in attendance. The pair had toured together and also shared the stage. Watch them perform Hank Williams Jr.’s “Dinosaur” below.