SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) — A man who lived in the "dark, dark world" of methamphetamine and morphine abducted a Tennessee nursing student from her rural home in 2011, then drugged, raped and shot her before discarding her body and bragging about it, a prosecutor said Monday.
Paul Hagerman made the statements during opening arguments in the trial of Zachary Adams in Savannah, Tennessee. Adams, 33, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, raping and killing Holly Bobo, who was 20 when she disappeared from her home in Parsons, Tennessee, on April 13, 2011. Her remains were found 3 ½ years later near her home in Decatur County, located about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southwest of Nashville.
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.
Judge C. Creed McGinley moved the trial from Decatur County to neighboring Hardin County in order to secure an unbiased jury. Adams, who has a criminal record that includes drug possession and assault, faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.
After kidnapping, drugging and raping Bobo, Adams wrapped her in a blanket and took her in his truck to a friend's home, Hagerman said. He then called another friend, Jason Autry, and they went to the Tennessee River to "gut" her and put her in the water, Hagerman said.
Bobo made a sound and moved, so Adams shot her in the head, the prosecutor said. Adams got rid of her remains and described her to others in vulgar terms. He then bragged that the world would not find out what happened to Bobo, Hagerman said.
Two men looking for ginseng found Bobo's remains in woods not far from Adams' home in September 2014. Hagerman said authorities found a gun Adams used to kill Bobo.
"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."
Autry's attorney told the judge in February that there is no need to schedule a trial for him, raising the possibility that Autry could testify.
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.