Tennessee says 'Stringbean' murderer should stay in prison

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2011 7:03 PM
Tennessee says 'Stringbean' murderer should stay in prison

NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - A man convicted of murdering Grand Ole Opry comedian Dave "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife, Estelle, in a horrific 1973 crime was denied parole for a fourth time, a panel said on Tuesday.

Two members of Tennessee's Parole Board voted to deny John Brown early release from his 198-year prison sentence, a board spokeswoman said, and Brown would have to wait another six years to be considered for parole.

A lanky performer who appeared on the Opry in ill-fitting shirt, short pants and an oversized belt, Stringbean was known as a man who did not trust banks and was said to keep a large sum of cash at home.

That reputation led 23-year-old cousins John and Marvin Brown to break into the couple's cabin near Ridgetop, Tennessee, to look for money. Stringbean and his wife, returning from an Opry show, surprised the pair and were fatally shot, though Estelle begged for her life.

The only items stolen were a chain saw and some guns. The two cousins accused each other of pulling the trigger.

The murders shocked Nashville's country music community, and inspired the Sam Bush song "The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle."

John Brown has been denied parole three times previously, while Marvin Brown died in prison in 2003. Twenty-three years after the crime, $20,000 in deteriorated bills were discovered in a chimney behind Stringbean's house.

(Reporting by Vernell Hackett; Editing by Andrew Stern)