Judge Declines To Issue Gag Order In Holly Bobo Case

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Judge Declines To Issue Gag Order In Holly Bobo Case

CREATED May 29, 2014
DECATUR COUNTY, Tenn. – A Decatur County judge has declined to issue a gag order in the case against one of the two men charged in the murder and kidnapping of Holly Bobo.

Circuit Court Judge Charles Creed McGinley said Wednesday he would not be issuing the order "at this time" in the case of 39-year-old Jason Autry.

A gag order would bar those involved in the case from speaking publicly about it. McGinley said he has not granted a gag order in 26 years as a judge. However, the judge also advised the defendant to "exercise his right to remain silent."

The request was filed by prosecutors after Autry gave an exclusive interview to NewsChannel 5 from jail. McGinley advised everyone involved in the case to "try the case in the court and not in the media."

The state objected to the broad content of our interview and claimed the comments made by Autry and his attorney, Fletcher Long, could intentionally or unintentionally pose a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a fair trial because of the publicity.

Attorney General Beth Boswell claimed Long inappropriately allowed NewChannel 5 to interview his client while he was being held in segregation at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison.

Inmates in segregation are not allowed to do interviews in the prison. Our interview was conducted by way of video conferencing. The NewsChannel 5 crew was not at the prison.

Another motion that was addressed in court Wednesday afternoon was a defense motion that asked for "unfettered access" to their client. Attorney Fletcher Long claimed Riverbend Maximum Security Prison hindered Autry's right to a legal defense. Long complained that Riverbend has not allowed him face-to-face, private meetings with Autry, who is in segregation.

The judge said Wednesday that he would not grant "unfettered" access, but said they would look at Riverbend's policies and ensure the attorneys were able to speak with Autry without being overheard.

For the first time since arrests were announced in her daughter's death, Holly's mom Karen spoke to reporters Wednesday, blasting defense attorney's in the case.

"I'm asking people not to get sidetracked by the lawyers' circus and sideshow. That's not what it's about. Please don't forget about what this is about and that is Justice for Holly," she said.

"We've been living a nightmare for three years and that continues everyday," Karen added.

Jason Autry's lawyer Fletcher Long responded to her claims following Wednesday's hearing.

"If it's a circus sideshow it's not a circus we invited to town it was a circus sideshow before we every appeared," he said. 

The judge also ordered that the prosecution must give the defense a "bill of particulars," which is essentially a timeline of the case -- including specific times and dates.

Autry and Zachary Adams have been charged with aggravated kidnapping and murder in connection with Holly Bobo’s death. Autry said in his exclusive interview that he was innocent and had no involvement in Bobo’s kidnapping or death. Long also claimed that Autry may have an alibi, saying he was out of the county when Bobo allegedly was taken.

Bobo was 20 when she disappeared from her family's rural home near Parsons on April 13, 2011. Investigators said her body has not been recovered.

On Tuesday, another hearing was held in chancery court to discuss a dispute over an immunity agreement for Shayne Austin, another man said to be involved in the case.

Decatur County Chancery Court Judge Carma D. McGee decided Tuesday that only a criminal court can decide whether prosecutors can revoke an immunity agreement reached with Austin.

A March 6 agreement granted Austin immunity from various charges, including "all charges arising out of the disposal, destruction, burial, and/or concealment of Holly Bobo's deceased body."

Prosecutors later revoked the agreement, saying Austin wasn't truthful with them. Austin's lawyer then sued in chancery court for breach of contract.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)