Killer of Grand Ole Opry Star David ‘Stringbean’ Akeman Granted Parole
It's been almost 41 years since Opry star David 'Stringbean' Akeman and his wife Estelle were murdered, and now one of the killers is about to go free. John A. Brown, who committed the crime along with his cousin, Doug Marvin Brown, has been granted parole, after serving 41 years of his prison sentence, which was two life terms.
The Akemans were killed in their own home, after returning from a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Stringbean was killed inside the house, while his wife was killed on the front lawn, shot in the back of her head as she was on her knees, begging for her life to be spared. The Browns targeted the couple because of Stringbean's habit of carrying large amounts of cash.
Brown has appeared before the parole board six times since his incarceration. At his last court date on Wednesday (Oct. 16), he appeared before five of the seven parole board members, with four voting to grant his release. But while the legal system seems to have granted him forgiveness, several of the Opry members have not.
"I'm sure the Lord will forgive him," she adds. "I don't think any of us will."
Bluegrass legend Mac Wiseman says he is devastated by the ruling.
"It makes me question the legal system," he says. "I fully believe that the good Lord forgives us for our mistakes," he adds, noting that the members of the parole board "don't have the authority, spiritually or otherwise, to forgive that man, I don't think."
Brown, who has a lengthy history of good behavior while in prison, will have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and his freedom could still be several weeks away. But he says he is truly sorry for his mistake.
"I can’t undo anything to change my past," Brown said at a hearing in April. "I’ve committed the last 40 years to changing my life."
Akeman, who was a regular performer on the hit TV show 'Hee Haw' at the time of his death, left behind legions of fans and friends who still feel the loss.
“I don’t want to see him have another breath of free air,” Opry member and close friend of the Akemans, Jan Howard, says. “It was not a robbery gone bad, a burglary gone bad. It was premeditated."