Homicide

Holly Bobo murder trial: Jury selection begins after months of delays

Reaction from defense attorneys Nolan Klein and Richard Roth

 

On an April morning nearly six years ago, nursing student Holly Bobo walked out of her parent's rural Tennessee home on her way to school when she was abducted in a case that sparked the largest manhunt in state history.

The 20-year-old's partial remains were found in 2014, and three men were charged with her kidnapping, rape and murder.

On Wednesday, jury selection began in the trial of Zach Adams, 32, the first suspect to be tried in the case. Police say he raped Bobo and videotaped it before she was killed.

Adams' trial was originally scheduled to begin this week but was delayed until July 10 by Judge Creed McGinley. Final jury selection will be determined on July 6, four days before his trial is set to begin.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Adams faces the death penalty. The man's brother, Dylan Adams, 29, and a friend, Jason Autry, 42, also face charges for allegedly raping and murdering Bobo.

Some 200 potential jurors were summoned to a courthouse in Hardin County Wednesday, where they were questioned about the case and their views on the death penalty.

"You can't base a verdict on what you've seen, heard or read," McGinley told the courtroom. "We're using today to narrow the pool, to make sure we have people to serve in this case."

The Adams brothers say they are innocent in Bobo's death. Jason Autry, meanwhile, reportedly gave a statement to authorities in January, detailing his part in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Bobo. It's not known whether Autry will go to trial or whether he received some sort of plea deal in exchange for cooperating with investigators.

Bobo, a nursing student at the University of Tennessee at Martin who lived with her family in Decatur County, was last seen by her brother on April 13, 2011.

Clint Bobo, then 25, reported seeing his sister being led by a man that day into the woods near their home at 7:30 a.m. Clint told investigators he initially assumed Holly was with her boyfriend, but said he grew concerned after finding blood outside, prompting him to call 911.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation then launched the costliest and most exhaustive missing persons search in the state's history, scouring woods and fields by air and foot. Authorities also used high-resolution underwater imaging to search lakes and ponds. 

On Sept. 7 2014, two men looking for ginseng found Bobo's remains about 400 yards into the woods north of County Corner Road in northern Decatur County.

According to investigators, Dylan Adams told police he saw his brother and Autry with Bobo at Zach Adams' home shortly after she was kidnapped. An affidavit states that Dylan Adams "observed Holly Lynn Bobo sitting in a green chair in the living room wearing a pink t-shirt, with Jason Wayne Autry standing just a few feet away."

Dylan Adams also told investigators that his brother was "wearing camouflage shorts" and said he told him "he had raped Bobo and videotaped it" – though the alleged videotape has not been found. John Adams has since claimed the confession was coerced.