Ind. jury acquits music hall manager in 2009 fire

NASHVILLE, Ind. - The former manager of a southern Indiana concert hall has been found not guilty on charges that he set a 2009 fire that destroyed the venue.

The Herald-Times reports a Brown County jury on Friday acquitted James Bowyer of Morgantown on all charges in his arson trial. He was accused of setting the fire that destroyed the Little Nashville Opry in September 2009.

"I don't know how anyone could survive something like that. Barbs being thrown at you on a weekly and monthly basis for four years. It's not easy to take. I really want to thank the Brown County jurors because they saw the set of facts as they were and exonerated me from something I didn't have anything to do with," Bowyer said.

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

Authorities said both Bowyer and his companion, Little Nashville Opry owner Esther Hamilton, had accumulated large debts from casino gambling.

Bowyer's attorney maintained during his trial he had not been the last to leave the property the night of the fire.

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