The murder trial for Zachary Adams, accused of raping, kidnapping and murdering nursing student Holly Bobo, will get underway in Savannah, TN on Monday, September 11. In April of 2011, Bobo was reportedly taken from her home as she was leaving for an exam. Adams is the first defendant to be brought to trial and it is expected to last up to three weeks. Final jury selection will take place on Saturday. Here is a brief update on the case and what to expect during the trial.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began investigating the crime soon after Bobo was reported missing, implementing one of the most extensive and costliest missing person searches in the state’s history.
Investigators finally ended the search without finding Bobo or her remains. However, in September of 2014, two men scouring the woods in Decatur County, TN, about 20 miles from the reported abduction, stumbled upon what turned out to be Bobo’s skull. No bones from the neck down have been found.
Adams, along with six others, was arrested by authorities after John Dylan Adams, gave a confession to authorities, saying he arrived at his brother’s home to find Bobo tied to a chair wearing a pink t-shirt. He said his brother had admitted to raping the young student and also videotaped the crime. Dylan Adams has since claimed his confession was coerced. Three men were ultimately charged in the case.
The trial was scheduled to begin in July but a delay was granted after a .32 caliber handgun, thought to be the murder weapon, was found in submerged water.
Nashville attorney Jennifer Thompson is representing Adams.
What prosecutors will rely on is testimony from Jason Autry, one of those arrested. Autry has been granted immunity in the case and is expected implicate the Adams brothers in the crime. Two other men, Victor Dinsmore and Michael Alexander, have also been granted immunity and have not been charged in the case.
In an interesting development that could have an impact on the trial, Hardin County Circuit Court Judge Creed McGinley was cited for two misdemeanors for possessing a loaded handgun in a restricted area at the Memphis International Airport on Sunday, August 27, two weeks before the trial begins.
The Shelby County District Attorney’s office, who was assigned to prosecute the case after the District Attorney for Hardin County, Matt Stowe, recused himself for comments he made relative to the case, recused themselves from McGinley’s case and all parties agreed to move forward.
It’s no secret that Thompson and McGinley have had a rocky legal relationship after she asked the judge to recuse himself earlier this year. McGinley denied her request.
What to look for when the trial begins
Jury Selection – Fifteen jurors will be selected on Saturday from the remaining pool of 75. Jurors will be sequestered for the duration of the trial, which means they will have limited access to people or events during the trial. The televisions and radios in their hotel rooms will be removed and the only reading material allowed are books and magazines not connected with the case or current events.
Hardin County Courthouse – This is the biggest trial ever held in the county and extra security measures will be in place. The courtroom only holds about 180 people and many of those will be relatives and friends of the Bobo family. Visitors hoping to enter the courtroom will be required to pass through two security checkpoints and only one entrance to the courthouse will be used.
Media Onslaught – Dozens of media outlets will be in Savannah to cover the proceedings. The Wi-Fi network at the courthouse in being improved and one camera will be permitted in the courtroom.
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Paul Stanley is a freelance journalist and writer who was born in Savannah, TN. He is a former TN State Senator and the Founder and Editor of OneSouthernMan, a website devoted to covering all things Southern.