A man accused of murdering Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo said on the witness stand Thursday that he acted as a lookout while his friend fired the bullet that killed her, according to multiple reports.
“I need you to help bury this body,” Jason Autry testified he was told by his friend, Zachary Adams, who is on trial for the 2011 abduction, rape and murder of Bobo, 20, according to The Jackson Sun, WBBJ and CBS News.
Autry and another man, Adams’ brother John Dylan Adams, also face charges in the case, and will be tried separately. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
Bobo’s remains were recovered in the woods three and a half years after she was taken from outside of her family’s semi-rural Decatur County home on April 13, 2011.
On the fourth day of Zachary Adams’ trial in Savannah, Tennessee, Autry — who has been offered the possibility of reduced charges and federal immunity in exchange for his testimony, reports the Sun — described in chilling detail the alleged events leading to the murder and its aftermath.
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Bobo’s brother, Clint, earlier testified that he heard voices outside of the family’s house on the morning his sister went missing, and then glimpsed a man dressed in camouflage walking Holly to the edge of the woods.
Autry, who acknowledged his addiction to methamphetamine and morphine, testified that on the day Bobo disappeared, he’d called his friend Zachary Adams to buy a morphine pill. Autry, nicknamed “Train,” later met up with Adams.
“He said, ‘I need you to help me bury this body,’” Autry said.
Autry first thought the body might be that of someone who owed money to Adams and another man, Shayne Austin, from a drug deal.
“He said, ‘Train, that’s Holly Bobo,’” Autry testified.
Autry alleged that Adams eventually told him that he, Shayne Austin and Adams’ brother John Dylan Adams all had raped Bobo, who allegedly had been drugged.
Autry said he and Adams allegedly drove Adams’ truck to the nearby bank of the Tennessee River with Bobo’s wrapped body in back and lifted it from the truck bed. Because they lacked tools to dig a grave, they had allegedly decided to “gut” the body and throw it into the water.
Autry said he saw Bobo’s foot move and she made a sound that indicated she still was alive.
“She’s heard my name and heard me talking and all,” Autry said.
Adams retrieved a pistol from his truck, Autry said, and told Autry to wait. Autry said he checked to make sure no one was nearby before giving an all-clear signal to Adams, and then he allegedly heard a gunshot.
“It sounded like ‘boom, boom’ boom’ underneath that bridge,” he said. “It was just one shot but it echoed. Birds went everywhere, all up under that bridge. Then just dead silence for just a second.”
A pathologist earlier testified in the trial that Bobo was shot in the head.
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With the approaching sound of a boat, the two men feared they might be caught, Autry alleged. They put the body back in the truck and drove off. Autry made an excuse to leave his friend, saying he had to meet his girlfriend for lunch.
“I realized that this old boy had made some bad mistakes, some bad judgments,” Autry said. “I was looking for a way to put some distance between me and that situation.”
Autry said that two days later, he asked Adams what he’d done with “the ol’ girl.”
“We threw her out,” Adams allegedly replied, according to Autry.
Adams then allegedly tried to enlist Autry to kill his brother, Dylan, fearing that Dylan wouldn’t stop talking about the incident. Autry said he agreed, and took Dylan out on a boat on the river to carry out his promise before another boater recognized Dylan.
“At that point, that stopped everything,” Autry said. “We had been positively identified.”
Adams admitted to the rape of Bobo in August 2012, Autry said.
“I looked at him and said, ‘It looks like we got by with this [expletive],” Autry said in court. “He said, ‘The real reason were were there [at the Bobo residence when Holly was allegedly abducted] was to show Clint how to manufacture meth and she came out raising hell and we took her.’”
That allegation was not revisited by either the prosecution or the defense.
The trial is expected to last another two weeks. Prosecutors have said they would pursue the death penalty if Zachary Adams is convicted.