DNA, personal items entered as evidence in Holly Bobo murder trial

DNA, personal items entered as evidence in Holly Bobo murder trial

DECATUR COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Nine witnesses testified during day three of the Holly Bobo murder trial.

The first two days of the trial included prosecutors saying Holly was alive when Zach Adams went to dispose of her body, Holly's mother passing out during testimony, and Adams' ex-girlfriend saying he threatened to kill her "like he did Holly Bobo."

The prosecution spent the third day of the trial talking to witnesses and experts about items belonging to Holly that ultimately led investigators to Holly's remains. Prosecutors called expert witnesses--including a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation forensic scientist, the deputy chief medical examiner at the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, and a senior forensic analyst from the University of North Texas--to testify about the items and their importance in the case.

Holly went missing in April 2011; her remains were found in September 2014. A skull with a gunshot hole, seven ribs, and 10 teeth were found deep in the woods in Decatur County. It was determined through DNA testing that the remains found were 21.8 billion times more likely to be a child of Karen and Dana Bobo and sibling of Clint Bobo than a random member of the population.

Dennis McKenzie, Dana Bobo's boss, took the stand first Wednesday.

McKenzie said he helped with the search because Holly's disappearance was personal to him.

McKenzie told prosecutors that he volunteered to monitor Zach Adams with Tennessee Highway Patrolman Warren Rainey.

McKenzie said he witnessed Adams hosing down and vacuuming mattresses that were leaned against Adams' home.

The mattress was a point of suspicion for Rainey, he testified Tuesday. "I don't know why you'd leave a mattress like that outside," Rainey said.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned why McKenzie did not include the vacuuming detail in his report after Adams' arrest.

Jon Graves, a construction worker who assisted with the search, took the stand after McKenzie. Graves assisted in the search for Holly Bobo by taking his four-wheeler and searching the woods, sheds, and barns.

The day after Holly went missing he made it to a creek and noticed something off. Graves said he found a polka dot lunch box with an embroidered H.

Graves said he fished the lunch box out of the creek and made calls. He knew about Holly's disappearance, but could not remember her first name at the time. When he was told it was Holly, he said, "You may have to get someone out here. This might be something."

Defense attorney Jennifer Thompson tried to question Graves on a statement Graves' nephew, who was 5 years old at the time, made regarding Holly Bobo; however, the judge took the jury out of court and determined that line of questioning to be irrelevant.

Gerald Stephens was next to take the stand. Stephens is a farmer who said searchers came to his property while looking for Bobo. Stephens said he decided to help search despite not knowing the Bobo family.

The second day after Bobo went missing, Stephens said he was driving slowly down a road to look for anything suspicious. He spotted something pink on the side of the road, so he stopped.

Stephens got out and, without touching the pink item, he determined it was a pair of panties. Stephens then quickly called law enforcement.

Stephens testified until a power surge knocked out the lights in the courtroom briefly, prompting a recess.

Stephens later found a piece of paper on the ground. Stephens said he picked the paper up with a knife. The paper had Holly Bobo's name, address, and phone number on it.

Stephens later found out that Shayne Austin lived next door to where the paper was found.

Emily Pratt was next on the stand. Pratt said she knew Holly her whole life and was in the same nursing program.

"I loved her as if she was one of my kids," Pratt said.

Pratt said there was a test scheduled the day Bobo went missing. The instructor waited for Holly to show, but started the test anyway. Pratt said after everyone turned in their tests, the instructor told them of Holly's disappearance.

While searching, Pratt said she and a few others found a cellphone in a culvert. Pratt recognized the phone as Holly's, as she had used it before. She quickly called law enforcement to take the phone as evidence.

The defense questioned Pratt, saying she told someone that the phone did not belong to Holly. Pratt said she did not remember saying this.

Ednesha Brasher was the next on the stand.

Brasher said she knew Clint Bobo through work.

While on a bike ride with her brother in May 2011, Brasher said she and her brother were playing "I Spy" when her brother found a SIM card.

Brasher said she put the SIM card in her pocket and brought it home. When she got home, she put the SIM card in her phone and listened to voicemails.

She then realized the card belonged to Holly.

Brasher then called a number she found online and brought the SIM card to the Bobo family.

Ernest "Larry" Stone then took the stand.

Stone said he was searching for ginseng plants in Decatur County with his cousin when something caught his eye.

Stone said he found a bucket, which was oddly placed in the middle of the woods.

"Something told me to turn around," Stone said.

Stone turned around and saw what he believed to be a human skull, so he called his cousin over.

"Please tell me that's one of those things they use in school. It's not real," he told him.

His cousin said he believed it was a real skull.

He told his cousin he believed the skull could be Holly's, so he called law enforcement. He was so emotional, he had to give the phone to his cousin.

"I was so tore up with emotion. I broke down. I couldn't talk or nothing."

The defense choose to not cross-examine Stone.

Laura Hodge, a forensic scientist for TBI, was next to testify.

Hodge said she was called to investigate the area where Bobo's skull was found.

The prosecution presented items from the scene to Hodge.

Hodge showed the jury an inhaler, a small purse, a cloth strap (believed to be from the purse), a camera, keys with an 'H' keychain, a tube of ChapStick, a pack of gum, and a small purse filled with writing utensils and lipstick. A larger purse was also found covered in leaves. Hodge said the purse was almost buried in the ground.

Those items were all found near Bobo's remains. Nearby, other items were found at the top of a ditch, including a ring, a hair tie, and pink fabric possibly from a shirt.

After a lunch recess, Laura Hodge returned to the stand. Hodge began by showing two earrings, two pink fibers, a small lotion bottle,  the sole of a flip flop, teeth, and ribs that were found near where Holly Bobo's remains were found.

Hodge then explained how they were able to find some of the smaller items at the crime scene, such as teeth, by taking small shovels of dirt and using a sifter.

Hodge then showed the skull that was found at the scene.

A wallet was found at the scene with Holly Bobo's driver license inside.

Then Hodge showed some of the items found inside the purse at the scene, including a thumb drive and an earring.

A .308 cartridge case, a .380 cartridge case, and a .410 shotgun shell were found at the scene where Holly Bob's remains were found.

Hodge showed the jury two separate aerial views of the area where Holly Bobo's remains were found.

The prosecution then turned over the questioning over to the defense. The defense asked if Hodge moved any of the items and photographed them. Hodge said she did not. After a couple of brief questions, Laura Hodge was finished testifying.

After Hodge, Marco Ross, a forensic pathologist and Deputy Chief Medical Examiner at the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, took the stand.

Ross' office received seven ribs, a skull with three teeth in the bottom jaw, 10 additional teeth, and part of a shoulder bone from the scene.

Ross identified a hole on the right side of the skull as a gunshot wound.

Ross confirmed that nothing larger than a .36 caliber bullet could have caused the gunshot wound in the skull. He also said his office classified this death as a homicide.

Ross believes that the gunshot happened before Holly Bobo died.

The defense attempted to debunk that by saying that there was nothing conclusive to show that the gunshot wound was the cause of death. Ross agreed that he could not definitively say that the gunshot wound was the cause of death, but it was the most likely cause of death.

The defense also tried to debunk the claim that the caliber of bullet had to be .36 or smaller by saying that if the bullet had fragmented before impact, then the bullet could have been much larger. Ross agreed that was possible.

Ross did, however, confirm that this particular wound was consistent with a .32 caliber bullet.

Krystle Rodriguez, senior forensic analyst at the University of North Texas, took the stand after Marco Ross.

Rodriguez took DNA from Karen, Dana, and Clint Bobo in May 2011 to run against any evidence or remains that were found to try to identify them.

Rodriguez received a rib that was found at the scene where Holly Bobo's license was found. She ran tests to determined if there was a match to the rest of the Bobo family's DNA. Rodriguez said that the findings were consistent to a child of Karen and Dana, as well as a sibling of Clint Bobo.

Rodriguez said it was 21.8 billion times more likely that the remains found were a child of Karen and Dana Bobo and a sibling of Clint Bobo than just a random member of the population.

Court broke for the day after Krystle Rodriguez's testimony, making day three the earliest the court has finished. The judge said he expects Thursday, day four, to be a long day.

Jason Autry is one of the prosecutors' star witnesses. He was friends with Zach Adams, Dylan Adams, and Shayne Austin. He is also charged in the murder of Holly Bobo. It's unknown when he will take the stand, but he is expected to speak in the case.

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