DECATUR COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The fourth day of the Holly Bobo trial lasted nine-and-a-half hours, but only one man testified: Jason Autry.
Autry was friends with Zach Adams, Dylan Adams, and Shayne Austin; he is also charged with the murder of Holly Bobo. Autry is one of a handful of people granted partial immunity for information in the case.
Court was set to begin at 9 a.m.; however, the judge delayed the start by 15 minutes, and as soon as the prosecution called Autry to the stand, trial was delayed again until 10:30.
The defense began by asking Autry to map out his relationship with Zach Adams and describe his life in 2011.
Autry said he has known Zach Adams for 15 years, and he is the cousin of Shayne Austin. Autry said he is currently an inmate at Henderson County Jail and has been in prison four times, the previous instances for theft and drug crimes.
In 2011, Autry said he worked at a cattle farm. He said his relationship with his girlfriend Angela was in a decline, and his past was putting her children in trouble. He'd park his car about a mile away to hide the fact he was with her.
The prosecution made Autry testify that nobody told or coached him on what to say in his story. He said he planned to tell nothing but the truth. He said he decided to testify in the hopes of getting a more leniency punishment for the crimes he committed.
On April 12, 2013, Autry said he stayed the night at his girlfriend's house. He got up around 6:30 in the morning, drank coffee, and got in his girlfriend's car to be dropped off to his car, a PT Cruiser.
Autry said he got in his car and drove to a refuge to look at wildlife and 'kill time' before calling to buy drugs.
Autry said he was addicted to morphine, meth, and hydrocodone at the time. His search for drugs led him to make calls to Shayne Austin and Zach Adams. He eventually got in touch with Zach Adams around 8:40-8:50 a.m.
Adams initially said he was busy. Autry said Adams called him back a little later; he told him he needed his help at Austin's house, so Autry went there. Autry said he assumed Adams needed help with a batch of meth. 20-30 minutes later, he arrived.
Autry said he noticed a few things when he arrived: a fire burning in a burn barrel, Dylan in the doorway shirtless, and Zach in the yard with a firearm holstered on his side. He said Zach was walking around in the yard telling them to hurry and get out of the area.
Autry said he bought a pill from Austin, broke it in half, and ingested the drug. He then walked back to where Zach was standing.
Autry said Zach told him he needed help hiding a body. Autry assumed the body belonged to someone named JoJo they had previously talked about killing.
Autry said Zach told him, "No, that's Holly Bobo."
Autry said he was clueless and did not know who Bobo was, and did not care about the body in the back of the truck. Autry said Holly was wrapped in a blanket in the back of the truck.
Autry said he agreed to help bury the body, as long as he could move his car first.
Autry said Dylan never came out of the trailer; Austin was putting things into the burn barrel. He did not know what the items were, but the smell was like, "a meth lab burning."
Autry said he then backed his car to Yellowsprings Church and got into the truck with Adams.
As they got down the road, Autry asked Adams how they would bury the body without any shovels or pickaxes.
Autry, thinking of a plan, suggested taking her intestines out and putting her into water where turtles could eat the body.
He said the two drove to an area he had been to before on Birdsong Road, near a boat dock. They backed up to a pile of rip rap, about 20-30 feet from an I-40 bridge.
Autry confirmed this location through a series of pictures shown to him by the prosecution.
He said the two got out and grabbed Bobo's body when he noticed a small amount of blood on the truck and on the blanket.
Autry said he never looked inside or unwrapped the blanket. He said the two placed the body on top of the rip rap.
Autry said he was standing over the body when he noticed her legs moving and heard a sound of distress.
He told Adams, "This [expletive] is still alive."
At that time, he said Adams reached into the floorboard of the truck and grabbed a pistol.
"I said, 'whoa,'" Autry said, because he wanted to check the area. He walked away to check and make sure the area was clear.
He said he told Adams the area was clear, and then he heard a gun go off.
"It sounded like to me, that it shot three or four times...it echoed under the bridge."
Autry said there was just one shot, but he heard it echo several times and saw birds fly away.
"I heard a boat," Autry said. "And I took off running."
Autry feared the two had been seen or heard. Autry said the two grabbed the body again and loaded it back into the truck before racing off.
"This is a federal refuge, there's no firearms allowed here," he recalled telling Adams. "If they see us driving like this, they're going to think we're the suspects."
Autry said he needed to get home to have lunch with Angela in Benton County, but also wanted to distance himself from Adams, who he said, "had lost his mind."
Autry said he asked how Adams knew Holly. He said Adams told him Natalie Bobo, a cousin, worked at a strip club and had sex with Adams. Adams told him she gave Adams the idea that Holly "would have a threesome" with Adams.
After the incident, Autry said he called Adams back that afternoon around 2 p.m., looking for another pill.
He met up with Adams again, and Shayne and Dylan were outside. He said Adams' pickup was nowhere to be seen.
"When I pulled up, the air was just thick with animosity. You could tell there had been some fighting and anger amongst them," Autry said.
He said they got in a different truck with Zach and Austin, and Dylan was in the back, and the four did not say anything at first.
The group headed to the home of a woman named Dottie to get drugs. Autry, Shayne, and Zach started arguing.
He said Shayne told Zach he did not have to kill Holly, and Zach replied that Shayne was just as guilty, and implied that he also raped Bobo.
He said they stopped, a punch was thrown, and Victor Dinsmore came out, stopping the fight.
Autry said they purchased the pill, and Zach mentioned that he hid his truck in Dinsmore's garage.
Autry said this instance helped establish his friendship with Dinsmore.
Autry said two days later was the next time he spoke to Zach Adams.
He said the two agreed to meet at the Marathon station at I-40. Dylan was with Adams when he arrived. The two met in a wooded area near the Marathon, where Autry had marijuana plants.
Without the jury in the room, Autry then told the judge he asked Zach what he did with the body. He said Zach then told him Dylan would not stop talking, and Zach made Autry an offer for him to kill Dylan.
The defense argued this information was not relevant to the case; however, the judge said it suggested an attempt to cover up the crime, and allowed the testimony.
Autry said Zach asked him to kill Dylan to keep him from spilling the truth about Holly Bobo's disappearance. Autry initially declined, but later hatched a plan to kill Dylan.
He invited Dylan to go fishing with him on the Tennessee River. Autry planned to kill Dylan on the river, but another boat spotted them and Autry abandoned his plan.
Autry said he didn't see Zach, Dylan, or Austin for several months. In August 2012, Zach and Autry went deer hunting.
"It looks like we got away with that [expletive]," Autry recalled saying to Zach. That's when Adams told Autry they were at the Bobo house in the first place to teach Holly's brother Clint how to cook meth. Adams told Autry that Holly came running out of the house screaming at them, so they took Holly.
Prosecutors asked Autry if Zach ever talked to him about raping Holly Bobo. Autry said Zach told him Dylan performed oral sex on him and Shayne before they raped Holly. Autry said he was disgusted when he learned that, and Zach could tell, so he quickly stopped talking about what happened.
Autry said he did not kidnap, rape, or murder of Holly Bobo, but he admits he lied about what he knew and he helped cover up what happened.
When asked why he lied, he gave three reasons:
- Self preservation
- Family preservation
- Attempting to keep his relationship with his girlfriend
After a short recess, Zach Adams' defense team began cross-examining Autry.
The defense went over Autry's drug habits, having him detail how he used drugs and how much he used. Autry admitted the drugs, which he frequently and heavily used, distorted his mindset and his memory.
The defense then walked Autry through his story again, probing him for errors and testing his memory of the events.
For more than two hours, and through multiple short recesses, the defense team made Autry map out his route on the day he said Adams killed Holly Bobo.
After another break, defense attorney Jennifer Thompson asked if it was Judge C. Creed McGinley's intention to continue the trial Thursday night until she was finished questioning Autry. Judge McGinley said that was his intention.
Thompson then said she had a lot more questions and pointed out that it was very hot the courtroom. She said continuing late into the night would cause the jury to harbor ill-will toward her and her client.
"[Then] ask legitimate cross-examined questions," the judge responded. He pointed out that Thompson spent hours getting Autry to write on maps to no apparent purpose.
Thompson resumed cross-examination of Autry. She said he helped Adams kill Holly Bobo. Autry said that was not true. He said he did not stop Adams, and in fact, he went to make sure the coast was clear, but he did not kill her. He also said he has remorse for the role he played in her death and hiding evidence that could've helped solve the case earlier.
Thompson brought up allegations that Autry may be lying during his testimony to lessen his prison sentence. She said Autry could have his federal sentence reduced if his testimony helps the state convict Adams. The two then got into a dispute over Autry's federal immunity agreement. Autry said he knew he had an agreement, but he had never seen it. Thompson then showed Autry the immunity form, which had his signature on it.
Thompson then asked Autry if she was correct in summarizing his intentions today by saying he wanted the jury to understand that he's facing a death penalty, and he came in here telling the complete truth but he only hopes for leniency and has no other expectation for what's going to happen.
"I've come in here and admitted my wrongs, admitted where I've lied, testified to the truth, and I hope for leniency. That is correct," Autry responded.
The fifth day of the trial is slated to begin Friday morning at 9. Judge McGinley has already stated that he expects the trial to last into and possibly past Saturday. If the trial continues Saturday, testimony will happen in the morning.
More than a dozen people have testified over four days of trial as Zach Adams stands accused of abducting, raping, and killing Bobo in 2011.
Day three brought personal items, remains, and expert witnesses into the picture.
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.