DECATURVILLE, Tenn. - Prosecutors should not wait until the end of a court-ordered 90-day period to hand over all their evidence to the defense for a man charged in the disappearance of a Tennessee nursing student, a judge said Wednesday.
Zachary Adams, 29 was indicted on murder and kidnapping charges in March in the April 2011 disappearance of 20-year-old Holly Bobo. Another man, Jason Autry, 39, faces the same charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Decatur County Circuit Judge Charles Creed McGinley said prosecutors could start furnishing evidence they have already gathered in the case to Adams' lawyer, Jennifer Lynn Thompson. She had complained that prosecutors had not given her evidence she needs, while also arguing her client was not being given standard access to mail and family visits in Chester County Jail.
Bobo disappeared from her home in rural Parsons and a massive search in the fields and woods of West Tennessee was fruitless. Prosecutors and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have released few details about the case, though they have said Bobo's body has not been found.
Thompson filed motions asking McGinley to make prosecutors give her any favorable evidence that pertains to her client's guilt or innocence, including witness statements and search warrants. Thompson also wants the state to tell her what punishment may be imposed if Adams is found guilty at trial. Prosecutors have not ruled out the death penalty.
Prosecutor Beth Boswell said she is working to assemble the evidence, and she will disclose all that she must under the law.
McGinley said prosecutors should furnish evidence to Thompson as they gather it.
"This is a case of unusual complexity because of the length of time the investigation has gone on," McGinley said.
Adams' lawyer also asked the judge to order the state to give Adams standard access to jail visitation, telephone privileges and basic mail services. Adams is only allowed to visit with family under his lawyer's supervision, and he has not been given access to a pencil and paper, Thompson said.
Adams is being treated that way under the jail's rules for someone who is charged with coercing a witness, Boswell said. Prosecutors allege Adams communicated a message to his brother to keep quiet about the Bobo case or "he will be in the hole beside her."
McGinley said Adams should not be treated differently than any other jail inmate.