An eleven-day trial for the murder of Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo came to a close Friday as Zach Adams was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering the 20-year-old in 2011. And while the verdict proved to be a relief for the family, they will still have to endure additional grueling testimony in the case. Adams was merely the first to stand trial: Two additional men will have to do so at some point in the future.
Holly went missing from her family’s Tennessee home in April 2011, prompting the largest and most expensive search in the state’s history. Her remains were not located until more than three years later when a hunter came across her skull in the woods.
Zach Adams, 33, was convicted Friday and sentenced Saturday to life in prison plus 50 years. His brother, Dylan Adams, and another man, Jason Autry, were also charged in relation to the crime. Both men, like Zach Adams, pleaded not guilty. A status hearing was scheduled to be held in November to set trial dates for both Autry and John Adams.
Autry proved a key witness in the case against Zach Adams. Called to the stand by the prosecution, Autry testified about helping Zach dispose of her body. Autry said the men initially thought Holly was dead, but after putting her body in the car and driving some ways to dump it, they realized she was still alive.
“I see a foot moving and I hear a sound of distress come out of the blanket,” Autry testified. “At the time I walked to the door of the passenger side … and I told [Adams], ‘This f—- b—- is still alive. She’s heard my name called and me talking and all.”
Autry alleged that when Zach realized Holly was still alive, he pulled out a pistol and shot her. Autry himself was given federal immunity and agreed to a deal with prosecutors so that his sentence might be reduced in exchange for testifying against Zach, WHBQ-TV reported. Zach was able to avoid the death penalty by way of a deal, sending him instead to prison for life.
“Since the start of this investigation, our priority has been to pursue justice for the family and friends of Holly Bobo,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director Mark Gwyn said in a statement Friday. “Today, though we are gratified by the jury’s verdict, our thoughts remain with them. We hope today’s verdict brings a small sense of closure to those who loved Holly Bobo and stand prepared to assist prosecutors in the trials of the additional defendants in the case.”