Testimony ends in trial over burned concert hall

January 31, 2014

Testimony has concluded in the trial of the former manager of an Indiana concert hall on charges he set the fire that destroyed it.

Closing arguments are expected Friday on the arson charges against 78-year-old James Bowyer of Morgantown for the September 2009 fire at the Little Nashville Opry in Brown County.

Prosecutors say Bowyer set the fire in hopes of collecting $3 million in insurance money because he was heavily in debt from casino gambling losses.

The defense says Bowyer left before the fire started and wasn't listed on the insurance.

The Herald-Times reported Thursday that the only defense witness testified only one car was left in the parking lot when he left the night of the fire after helping the house band load up equipment. The witness said he didn't see Bowyer's pickup truck.

Earlier this week, venue owner Esther Hamilton testified that it didn't make sense that Bower would set the fire that destroyed the business Hamilton started with her late husband in 1975.

Hamilton said sold-out shows with Loretta Lynn and George Jones were coming up in the weeks after the 2009 fire. Hamilton testified she and Bowyer were heading to a Shelbyville casino after he closed the business for the night when they were called about the fire.

Brown County sheriff's Detective Scott Southerland testified that cell phone records showed Bowyer had time to set the fire and make the trip.

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