Jurors May Not See Holly Bobo's Picture In Court
by Mark Bellinger
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - If Zach Adams goes to trial for the murder and kidnapping of Holly Bobo, jurors may not see her photograph in the courtroom.
Recently, some prosecutors have stopped using victims' photos fearing defense attorneys will use it in an appeal. They argue the photos are prejudicial to jurors.
Now, some state lawmakers are proposing a change.
For many years judges handling murder cases let prosecutors show jurors victim's photographs, but recently that's changed.
"Well, within the last few years there were some cases in the Supreme Court where the court felt like there was no longer any relevance for putting those pictures in a trial, and so we had been told to kind of stop doing that," said Davidson County Assistant District Attorney General Sarah Davis.
Many prosecutors including Davis have stopped. They said it's too risky.
"Because we don't want to have murder convictions over turned for something so slight as putting the picture of a victim in a trial," said Davis.
Many family members of victims, like Connie Williams, can't believe what is happening. Williams' brother, Carl, was murdered almost 20 years ago.
"Somebody put a gun to his head and shot him one time," Williams said.
Police are still looking for his killer, but if there's ever a trial, Williams can't imagine a jury not being able to look at her brother's picture.
"I just think it's odd. I think not being allowed to show a picture is somehow, I don't know if dehumanized is the right word, but it makes it as if these people didn't have a life," she said.
Williams has joined other victims' rights advocates asking lawmakers to change the law involving victim photos.
"If you think it's just common sense that it is the right for a victim who is dead to have their photo shown to the jury who is considering justice for that victim. If you think that's right let these legislators know," said victims' rights advocate, Verna Wyatt.
Despite strong arguments from victim's families and victims' rights groups there is the other side of the story. NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Nick Leonardo said photographs won't help deliver justice.
"You know I think having a picture of a victim published to the jury for an inordinate amount of time is prejudicial to the defendant, and I'm not so sure how relevant it is to determine whether or not a crime had been committed," Leonardo said.
The Supreme Court appears to be leaning that way. Now, state lawmakers will get a chance to weigh in.
The bill will be heard for the first time next Wednesday afternoon in a House Civil Justice subcommittee.