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Judge Upholds Conviction For One Of The Men Convicted Of Holly Bobo’s Murder
The skeletal remains of Holly Bobo were found more than three years after she disappeared from her Darden, Tennessee, home in 2011. Zachary Adams was convicted, largely on the testimony of a man who agreed to help move Bobo's body.
A court of appeals has upheld the conviction of one of the several men charged in connection with the high-profile murder of Holly Bobo in Tennessee.
Zachary Rye Adams was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Bobo, a 20-year-old nursing student, according to the Jackson Sun. Bobo was reported missing by her brother, Clint Bobo, on April 13, 2011, after he saw her walking into the woods near their Darden, Tennessee, home with a strange man wearing camouflage.
In the spring of 2014, while Bobo was still missing, four people were charged in connection with her presumed murder, including Zach Adams and his brother, John Dylan Adams, the latter of whom allegedly has learning disabilities. John Dylan Adams was in jail on unrelated weapons charges when he first implicated his brother and his two friends, cousins Jason Autry and Shayne Austin, per ABC News.
All four were charged with kidnapping, rape, and murder.
In September 2014, nearly three and a half years after Bobo’s disappearance, her skeletal remains were found by ginseng hunters along a logging road in northern Decatur County, about 20 miles from Bobo’s home.
A bullet hole was found in the back of her skull, leading investigators to determine that was what caused her death.
Five months after the discovery of Bobo’s remains, Shayne Austin took his own life by hanging himself in a Florida hotel room. At the time, Austin had cooperated with authorities in exchange for immunity until prosecutors rescinded the agreement, stating Austin wasn’t being truthful in his statements, prompting Austin to become embroiled in a lawsuit against the state.
Jason Autry would also turn state’s witness and eventually testified as the key witness at Zachary Adams’ trial in exchange for federal immunity, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was released from prison in 2020.
Zachary Adams has maintained his innocence.
Adams’ attorneys filed an 81-page motion on June 7 with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, as reviewed by Oxygen.com, listing multiple reasons they believed Adams deserved a new trial, including insufficient evidence, according to the motion.
“He [Adams] does not allege that the State failed to establish the elements of the conviction offenses,” according to the filing. “Rather, he argues that the evidence failed to corroborate the accomplice testimony of codefendant Autry in connection with the homicide and rape convictions and that the evidence failed to establish his identity as the perpetrator of the kidnapping.”
Autry - who had multiple drug-related convictions before the trial - said he went to buy drugs from Zachary Adams and Austin around the time of Bobo's murder, finding Adams burning items in a burn barrel. Autry testified that Adams asked him to help hide Bobo’s body, which he agreed to after using drugs, according to NBC Memphis affiliate WMC-TV.
Autry said they went to take Bobo’s body and conceal it in gravel-like rip rap not far from a boat dock on Birdsong Road before realizing Bobo was still alive, prompting Adams to pull out his pistol and fatally shoot her.
After reloading Bobo’s body back into the truck, Autry said he made Adams drop him off elsewhere.
Autry stated that through several later conversations, Adams - with his brother and Austin - went to the Bobo residence to teach her brother, Clint Bobo, how to cook methamphetamines, something Clint Bobo has denied. They abducted Holly Bobo a short time later.
As detailed in Autry’s testimony, the case against Adams was largely circumstantial, which was noted in the recent motion for a new trial.
Adams’ attorney, Jennifer Thompson, argued her client had an unfair trial due to his image.
“We knew going in it was going to be a very hard case to win because you have this beautiful young woman who had been taken from her home, and those facts balanced against my client who had kind of a tough background, you know? He’d been involved in drugs; he’d been a drug addict, a drug dealer, and we knew that was going to be [a] really stark contrast between the two,” said Thomson. “But you know, the whole thing is that this whole case has been based on what people said. There is absolutely no evidence that ever linked Zach Adams to Holly Bobo.”
Aside from insufficient evidence, Adams’ attorneys also cited errors from the initial trial and hearsay as grounds for the recent motion. However, Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr. denied them all.
“In consideration of the foregoing and the record as a whole, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed,” according to the decision.
Adams’ high-profile trial has long been rife with alleged failures in the investigation, including when the then-new district attorney accused the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation of misconduct, prompting the state bureau to temporarily sever ties with the district and suspend Holly Bobo’s murder investigation.
The recent decision by the Court of Appeals was Adams’ second attempt for a new trial, according to ABC Memphis WATN-TV.
John Dylan Adams previously entered an Alford plea to lesser charges of facilitation of murder and is currently serving a 35-year sentence, according to NBC Nashville affiliate WSMV.
Brothers Mark and Jeffrey Pearcy were also charged in connection with Bobo’s murder, but the case was dismissed, according to Law & Crime.