After almost a year and a half, family, friends and fans of country singer Wayne Mills finally began to find closure when bar owner Chris Ferrell was convicted of and sentenced for Mills’ murder late last month.
According to news outlet WKRN, Ferrell’s defense team sought to delay sentencing and Ferrell attempted to influence Judge Steve Dozier by tearfully expressing regret for his actions. Ultimately, Ferrell’s words apparently had little effect, as Dozier sentenced him April 24 to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowed.
This event concludes a tragic saga that many have been following. Mills had many local friends and was a regular performer in the Azalea City. Shortly after his murder, nationally known performers such as Blake Shelton, Jamey Johnson and Jason Isbell expressed their shock and regret, with Mobile natives such as Wes Loper and Eric Erdman also expressing their dismay. Loper and Erdman described Mills as someone who had a positive influence on people through both his music and his personality.
“He’s got so many friends in Nashville and all around the Southeast that it’s affecting everybody,” Loper told Lagniappe December 11. “I can imagine it’s tragic for everyone.”
“The worst-case scenario was that it was bar fight between friends. I’m not saying that Wayne wasn’t above getting into bar fights, but Wayne wouldn’t kill a fly. So, the guy was never in danger of losing his life,” Erdman said.
Mills’ murder occurred Nov. 23, 2013 at about 5 a.m. at the Pit & Barrel Bar in Nashville. According to media reports, Mills and a group of friends attended a George Jones tribute concert and spent the rest of the night bar hopping. According to witnesses, Mills and Ferrell began to argue after Mills lit a cigarette in a non-smoking section of the bar. Media outlets reported that Mills’ friends had already left the bar but reported hearing the gunshots that killed Mills.
On Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, Mills was laid to rest in his hometown of Arab, Alabama. While closure may have been reached, thousands of devastated fans along with Mills’ wife and young son will always mourn the loss of this country singer. Mills didn’t leave them empty-handed, of course. The memories of his voice, his music, his performances and his personality will be preserved in the minds of all who knew Mills and enjoyed his music.