Mom of slain nursing student breaks down in court

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Zachary Adams, 33, stands accused of a heinous crime.

Back in 2015, he was charged with premeditated first-degree murder and murder in the perpetration of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape of Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo.

Bobo was 20 when she was reported missing from her home in rural Parsons in April 2011. Her partial remains were accidentally discovered in September of 2014 in a wooded area of Decatur County.

On Monday, prosecutor Paul Hagerman described in court how, after kidnapping, drugging and raping Bobo, Adams wrapped her in a blanket and took her in his truck to a different home. He then called another friend, Jason Autry, and they went to the Tennessee River to “gut” her and put her in the water.

The prosecutor explained that the killer lived in the “dark, dark world” of methamphetamine and morphine addiction when he shot Bobo in the head and got rid of her remains, with no remorse, allegedly having described his victim to other people using vulgar language. He also bragged that the world would not find out what happened to the young woman, Hagerman said.

Adams already faced two counts of rape related to the case, and his brother, John Adams, as well as Autry, were also charged in the murder/kidnapping.

Adams has pleaded not guilty.

Judge C. Creed McGinley moved the trial from Decatur County to neighboring Hardin County in an attempt to secure a jury less likely to have been influenced by the intense media scrutiny surrounding the case. Adams, who has a criminal record that includes drug possession and assault, faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

Judge McGinley had to briefly clear the courtroom during the first day of Adams’ trial Monday, after Bobo’s mother, Karen, collapsed to the floor, sobbing. Karen Bobo and her husband, Dana, were among the first people called to testify, reports CBS affiliate WREG.

“It was the worst feeling you could possibly feel, that something bad happened to one of your kids,” Dana Bobo said.

Karen Bobo spoke about the last time she saw her daughter alive, telling the courtroom, “I told her goodbye and I loved her.” She later listened as prosecutors played a recording of her own frantic voice as she called 911 to request help after her daughter was taken.

“Someone in full camouflage has Holly,” Karen Bobo could be heard yelling in the phone call.

At around 2:30 p.m., Karen could be heard saying between sobs that she felt sick. She then fell to the floor, and the courtroom was cleared for about half an hour. The judge later said that low blood pressure caused the distraught mother to pass out, but she was about to return to the stand and finish her testimony.

Bobo’s disappearance led to a massive search of the fields, farms and woods of West Tennessee. Her case received national attention, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it was the most exhaustive and expensive investigation the agency ever conducted.

Finally, two men looking for ginseng found Bobo’s remains in woods not far from Adams’ home in September 2014. Hagerman said authorities also found the gun Adams used to kill the young woman.

“He took her, he raped her, he killed her, he discarded her, he covered it up. He almost got away with it,” he said, “but he didn’t.”

Jennifer Thompson, Adams’ defense attorney, said in her opening argument that her client is not guilty. She said Adams was charged after investigators interviewed several other men, and they needed someone to blame. Authorities found no hair, fingerprints or DNA belonging to Bobo in a search of Adams’ home before he was charged in 2014, Thompson said.

Thompson said Autry, who also is charged with kidnapping, raping and killing Bobo, gave investigators statements about her killing in return for a reduced charge.

“He basically sells his death penalty” to prosecutors, Thompson said of Autry. “There are real problems with his story.”

Adams’ brother, John Dylan Adams, faces the same charges as his sibling. Thompson said John Dylan Adams has “low intelligence” and indicated that she plans to challenge statements he gave authorities.

The jury of 15 people is being sequestered. Three alternates will be chosen after testimony concludes.

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