A Nashville bar owner admits that he lied to police when he claimed Blake Shelton mentor Wayne Mills threatened him with a gun before he shot and killed the country singer.
The fast-moving murder trial, which continued Thursday despite a heavy snowstorm that paralyzed much of central Tennessee, did not include testimony from any of Mills' famous friends. Country artist Jamey Johnson, who toured with Mills, was on the prosecution witness list but never got called to the stand. However, the musician was in court late Thursday to hear closing arguments.
The defense previously objected to the possible attendance of Shelton and his wife, Miranda Lambert, at the trial because it might improperly influence star-struck jurors.
The jury will have to decide if Ferrell fired in self-defense because he feared for his life, as is allowed under Tennessee's "stand your ground" law.
Christopher Ferrell, testifying in his own defense Thursday, broke down in tears as he recalled lying to police after the 2013 shooting. He also admitted to tampering with evidence to try to make it appear that Mills had handled a .45 caliber handgun he kept behind the bar.
Mills said he feared for his life when he fired a .22 caliber pistol, but he later realized it was a cell phone, not a gun, in Mills' hand.
"I'm not denying any of this, but I was in fear," Mills eventually admitted to detectives in videotaped police interview played for the jury.
Testimony suggested the early morning fight at Ferrell's Pit & Barrel club in downtown Nashville began when the owner asked the intoxicated Mills to put out a cigarette in the non-smoking area. Ferrell testified that Mills suddenly flew into a rage, yelling, "I can't get a cab. There's no whores, and no f***king cocaine here. Why am I here?"
Ferrell said that when he told Mills he couldn't leave with a drink, the singer shouted at him, "If you talk to me like that again, I'm going to f—king kill you."
The coroner testified earlier that Mills, who died from a gunshot to the back of his head, was extremely drunk with a blood alcohol level of .221, which is almost three times the legal limit for drivers.
"I fired in fear," Ferrell testified. But what he thought was a gun in Mills hand was a cell phone, he claimed. He placed his .45 caliber gun, which he kept in the bar for self-defense, on the table near where Mills lay bleeding because he did not want it to appear that he had shot an unarmed man, he said.