BOBO TRIAL - THE PROSECUTION
Updated: Aug 17, 2018
BOBO TRIAL – THE PROSECUTION
Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Warren Rainey spoke of interviewing Zach Adams. Lt. Rainey describes Adams as being nervous and literally running back to the house when the interview ended. Rainey also tells of a mattress leaning up against the house and Rainey says this looked so unusual to him that he had a “gut instinct” that something was wrong.
Two other witnesses describe Adams washing, vacuuming and blowing off the mattresses. One of these witnesses says he saw 2 mattresses and this witness also describes Adams spending over an hour vacuuming his truck. This activity occurred immediately after Lt. Rainey left the Adams home.
FBI Special Agent Mat Ross testified to an interview he conducted on April 23, 2011 with Adams at Adams’ residence. This was 10 days after Holly’s disappearance. During the interview SA Ross noticed scratches on Adams’ arm. With Adams’ permission, Ross took photographs of these scratches. Adams also let SA Ross look around his home. Ross said he had received a tip that Adams might be a person of interest. In this initial interview Adams said he got up that day about 10-10:30 and went to a gas station with his brother, Dylan, (also charged in the murder) and a friend.
Zach Adams’ former girlfriend, Rebecca Earp, says she stayed with Adams the night before Holly’s disappearance. She says Adams left the house between 6 – 7:30am saying he had to haul away some scrap metal. She became concerned later that morning when Adams called her using his brother’s phone, not his own (if true, this would indicate the two brothers were together). When Adams returned home later that morning, she noticed scratches on his arm and neck. Earp confronted Adams and told him she did not believe he had hauled away scrap that morning. Earp testified, “He said he would tie me up just like he did Holly Bobo and nobody would ever see me again.” Earp told defense attorneys she did not report this information to police because she was scared.
Witnesses testified to discovering several personal items belonging to Holley including her purse and lunch box, the SIM card belonging to her cell phone, a cell phone believed to be hers, a pair of pink panties, and a balled up piece of paper with her name and address written on it. All of these items were found in different places, but, they were all near the property of Shayne Austin. Shayne Austin was arrested for the murder and later committed suicide.
TBI forensic scientist Laura Hodge described the crime scene search. An inhaler, 2 purses, keys with the letter “H”, and cosmetic items as well as a wallet with Holly’s driver license were found near the skeletal remains. She testified to recovering a .410 gauge shotgun shell and a .32 caliber pistol shell casing. Dr. Marco Ross conducted the autopsy and testified that cause of death was definitely a gunshot wound and probably a .32 caliber weapon. He said it could have been a smaller caliber, but definitely was not a larger caliber. The weapon recovered is a revolver and if the shell casing is the one involved in Holley’s murder, that is confusing. The killer would have had to remove the one shell casing from the gun and drop it out with the body. It doesn’t make much sense, but sometimes these things don’t make much sense.
Jason Autry testified on day 4 of the trial. At the beginning of his testimony prosecutors made sure the jury was aware this witness had flaws. He told the jury he was a former drug addict and had been in jail on drug and theft charges several times. To summarize his story, he says he contacted Zach Adams by phone a little before 9am on the morning of Holly’s disappearance. He was calling Adams to buy dope. Adams said he was busy, but later called Autry back and said he (Adams) needed help. Autry thought he needed help cooking a batch of methamphetamine. Upon his arrival at Shayne Autry’s house (where he met Adams), Adams said he needed help in disposing of the dead body of Holly Bobo. Shayne Austin and Dylan Adams were both present. Holly was wrapped in a blanket in the back of Zach’s truck and Zach and Jason headed to dispose of the body. It was Jason’s idea to disembowel her and throw her in the Tennessee River so the turtles would eat her body. Autry said he knew of this method of body disposal being used 11 years before. Once they arrived at the river, they discovered she was still alive. There was a small amount of blood on the blanket and on the truck. Autry never looked inside the blanket. Autry made sure there was no one around. He let Adams know there were no witnesses and then Autry heard one shot fired and that’s when Zach Adams killed Holly Bobo. The pair feared some people boating on the river had heard the shot and seen them, so they fled the area. Autry told Adams he had to leave to meet his girlfriend for lunch.
He met with the Adams brothers and Austin about 2pm. There were problems between the killers and finally there was a fight between Shayne and Zach. Victor Dinsmore broke up the fight and Zach later said he had hidden his truck at Dinsmore’s garage. Autry says he and Austin traded the murder weapon to Dinsmore for some pills. Dinsmore later showed where the pistol had been thrown away. Autry was shown the pistol police recovered and he said it looked like the gun Adams used to kill Holly. Austin was wearing the pistol on his side when Autry showed up at the house. Autry mentioned someone was mowing the grass when he met up with the three defendants and one of the killers said a satellite system installer was supposed to come by that morning. Autry testified Adams was wearing camouflage clothing that day. Autry also told a story about going to the place where Adams said the body was dumped. The area was located on someone’s property, not the refuge. In order to go on the property without raising suspicion he pretended to be going fishing. When he asked a lady’s permission to go fishing on their property, she told Autry he would have to get permission from her father and her father was gone to search for Holly Bobo. Autry became so distraught at the mention of Holly’s name the lady reported the incident to police.
Adams gave Autry two stories about how he targeted Holly. On the day of the murder Adams told Autry he knew Natalie Bobo, a cousin of Holly’s who worked in a strip club. Rebecca Earp testified she introduced the two to one another. Natalie told Adams that Holly might be interested in having sex with them. In August of 2012 Adams told a different story. He said “they” (Zach, Dylan and Shayne) went to the Bobo home to teach Holly’s brother how to make meth. Adams said Holly came out screaming at them and so they took her. Holly’s brother Clint testified to seeing one person.
Adams conversation with Autry also confirmed Zach Adams, Shayne Autry and Dylan Adams raped Holly. Adams told Autry that Dylan performed sex on Zach and Shayne prior to raping Holly. Allegedly the rape took place in a barn belonging to Shayne Austin’s grandfather. It is possible there could have other rapes since mattresses were seen being cleaned up outside the house. Some of Holly’s personal effects were found near this barn.
A few days after the murder Zach made a deal for Autry to kill his brother, Dylan. Zach said Dylan had not slept since the crime and Zach was probably afraid Dylan might start running his mouth. Autry carried Dylan out on the river and was going to kill him and dump the body in the river. The plan fell apart when a man who knew Dylan encountered them and Autry knew he could be identified. That ended the murder plot.
Autry told defense attorneys he didn’t tell police the truth initially because he feared for his safety and the safety of his family and he feared it would hurt his relationship with his girlfriend.
In talking to journalists and law enforcement officers who watched Autry testify, I hear differing opinions about how well he did on the stand. Some said he did a great job and was very believable. Others said he appeared arrogant or tried to be “cute”. Two people told me he used words that did not seem to be his own which lead them to believe he may have been “coached” in his testimony. I bring this up to point out that different people watching the same testimony had differing opinions. Autry’s testimony is obviously the backbone of the prosecution’s case. The point I am trying to make is, the twelve people on the jury may have differing opinions as to Autry’s credibility as well, and their perception is the only one that really matters.
The prosecution would like to be able to confirm anything Jason Autry says as being the truth since that would make his whole testimony more believable. The single gunshot is consistent with the forensic scientist’s testimony. According to Austin, Adams said all three of the men raped Holly. The testimony concerning the mattresses being cleaned provides some corroboration for the allegation of sexual assault. On day five of the trial Dinsmore confirmed he broke up the fight between Shayne and Zach and that he hid Zach Adams truck. A lady working in the area testified she saw Dinsmore talking to 3 men between 2:30 pm– 3:30 pm. She identified Jason Autry as being one of the three men. Dinsmore also testified he traded drugs for the gun he later suspected was used to kill Holly. Dinsmore was given immunity to testify because he is a convicted felon and it would be illegal for him to be in possession of a firearm. So far, there has been no implication that he was involved in the murder. The parts of Autry’s testimony concerning someone mowing the grass and installing satellite service were confirmed by investigators.
On day 6 of the trial TBI Agent Mike Frizzell said cell phone records showed at 7:42 am Holly made her last call on her cell phone and she was near her home when she made the call. After that there were many incoming calls and text messages that went unanswered. The final ping from her phone came at 9:25 am from the same area where the phone and SIM card were recovered. This is near Shayne Austin’s home where Autry met Zach, Dylan and Shayne. Zach Adams phone pinged in the same area at 8:19 am. Both Zach and Holly’s phones were in that area until 9:42am. The cell phones of both Zach Adams and Jason Autry pinged the cell tower in the Birdsong area between 9:42 am and 10:30 am. This is the area where Autry testified Holly was murdered. These times are consistent with Autry’s testimony.
Also, on day 6, a friend of Holly’s, Candace Wood, told of a double date she and Holly and their boyfriends took together. They went to the World’s Largest Coon Hunt at the Decatur County Fairgrounds. She noticed a man who was paying very close attention to them. She caught him staring many times and he would look away when she looked at him. It bothered her enough she suggested they leave. A few days after Holly disappeared she went to police. A sketch artist was brought in and she provided the artist details to draw a picture of the man who had been staring at Holly. The picture the artist drew was Shayne Austin. She could not have seen a picture of Austin in the media since he wasn’t even developed as a suspect until years later.
TBI Agent Brent Booth testified that Zach Adams, Jason Autry, Shayne Autry and Dylan Adams were developed as possible suspects early in the investigation but the leads were not followed up as well as they could have been.
The prosecution is expected to finish their case on Monday, the seventh day of the trial. The prosecution says they plan to introduce 2 more witnesses and it is a safe assumption these witnesses will back-up the testimony of Autry and/ or other prosecution witnesses.
The defense will begin that afternoon of Tuesday morning, depending on when the prosecution rests and what the judge decides to do. In a case of this nature, common defense tactics may include; attacking the investigators, attacking prosecution witnesses and even attacking the victim. A more detailed description of what the defense’s attack plan could be will be posted Monday morning.
The prosecution did a very good job. Now it’s the defense’s turn.
Jim Leach served as Special Agent in Charge for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His book, “You Can Tell ME, a simple guide to effective interviewing” can be found at Amazon.com.