Grand Ole Opry star's killer paroled after 41 years in prison

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2014 8:55 PM

By Timothy Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - John Brown, one of the two men convicted in the murders of Grand Ole Opry and "Hee Haw" star David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife, will be released from prison after serving 41 years, officials said on Wednesday.

Brown, 64, who had been denied parole five times in the past, will be released in four to six weeks after four of the five Tennessee Board of Parole members voted to parole him during a hearing in Nashville on Wednesday.

Brown was sentenced to two consecutive 99-year sentences for the murders along with his cousin Doug Brown, who later died in prison.

Grand Ole Opry singer Jan Howard was among those voicing opposition to Brown's release, according to Melissa McDonald, board spokeswoman.

On Nov. 10, 1973, John and Doug Brown went to Akeman's rural cabin outside Nashville to look for cash when Akeman and his wife, Estelle, returned after a performance at the Opry.

John Brown shot Akeman when he walked into the cabin and then shot Estelle in the back of the head as she ran through the front yard and asked for mercy.

During a career that stretched back into the 1930s, Akeman was known for his picking mastery as well as for his country humor. He played with various artists, including Uncle Dave Macon, Ernest Tubb and was for a time a member of Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys.

(Reporting by Timothy Ghianni in Nashville; Editing by Brendan O'Brien and Eric Beech)