September 23, 2017 / 8:09 PM / 2 years ago

Man spared death penalty for 2011 murder of Tennessee nursing student

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - Zachary Adams will spend the rest of his life in prison for the 2011 kidnapping, rape and murder of Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo after a plea deal on Saturday spared him from the death penalty.

Adams, 33, the first of three men to face trial in the high-profile case, was found guilty of all counts on Friday in Savannah, Tennessee. He was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape in a case that drew so much media attention that a judge had moved the trial from Decatur County to neighboring Hardin County to secure an unbiased jury.

As part of a plea agreement worked out before the scheduled sentencing hearing on Saturday morning, Judge C. Creed McGinley ordered Adams to serve a life sentence plus 50 years, without the possibility of parole but also no possibility of execution.

After the agreement was disclosed in court on Saturday, Bobo’s mother, Karen Bobo, thanked the jury and then asked to address Adams. She asked court officials to be sure Adams was looking at her.

“I know that my daughter fought and fought hard for her life,” she said. “And I know that she begged for her life because my daughter loved and enjoyed her life. But you chose to take that from her, and you have shown absolutely no remorse for anything that you’ve done.”

Trial dates have not been set for the other two defendants, Adams’ brother Dylan Adams and friend Jason Autry. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Autry, however, admitted in his own role in the murder in testimony that was key to the prosecution’s case against Zachary Adams.

Bobo’s brother, the last person to see her, said she left the family property and walked into the woods with a man in camouflage whom he mistook for her boyfriend.

In September 2014, two men searching for ginseng in the woods in Decatur County discovered a human skull, identified by dental records as Bobo’s.

(This version of the story corrects age in paragraph two to 33)

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Lisa Von Ahn

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