Judge settles pre-trial motions before Holly Bobo murder goes to trial

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DECATURVILLE, Tenn. -- Pink and green ribbons outside the Decatur County courthouse show that six years later, Holly Bobo is not forgotten.

And after 2.5-hour hearing Wednesday, a judge has ruled the first trial for one of her accused killers will move forward April 3.

Some of the language at Wednesday's hearing was hard for family to hear.

Prosecutor Jennifer Nichols read a letter written by former person of interest Shayne Austin. Austin killed himself before the investigation advanced.

“'I had her chained up in the back,'” Nichols read. "I will make you disappear like I did that girl."

Such language gave a dark preview for trial.

A representative for the Bobo family said it will be tough but the loved ones are ready.

“They’re strong. Shown that since day one. Still extremely hopeful,” family pastor Brad Moore said.

It’s that strength that helped the family get through the hearing, though the tension between the defense and prosecution was highly palpable.

The hearing began with the defense asking Judge Creed McGinley to recuse himself from the trial of Zach Adams.

Attorney Jennifer Thompson pointed to a phone call where the judge told the prosecution the defendant should take a plea.

Thompson's assistant read from a transcription of the call.

"'If I were the defense, I'd be beating down the door at [201] Poplar trying to get something reached to resolve this,'" she said in court.

"It would erode the public’s confidence in the judicial system,” Thompson said.

But the judge rejected her request.

“As I’ve done on other occasions, I encouraged counsel to see if they could work the matter out," McGinley said.

And while Adams' case is still going to trial, the attorney for co-defendant Jason Autry made a surprise announcement; he indicated a plea deal would take place.

“On the second phone call I told your honor we will not need a trial,” attorney Michael Scholl said to the judge.

Prosecutors wouldn't comment on the plea deal prospects.

“Michael Scholl stood up and made that comment and he represents Jason Autry,” Jennifer Nichols said.

The Bobo family attorney said the prosecution would consult his clients about any possible plea. He wouldn’t talk specifics but did comment about the prospect of a deal in general.

“I can tell you the family wants this matter over with. They want justice, whatever that might be,” Bobo family attorney Steve Farese said.

The judge also ruled one of Adams' attorneys is not allowed on the case.

He said Luke Evans had a conflict of interest because he used to represent person of interest Shayne Austin.

More motions are set for March 1.

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