SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) — A U.S. Marshals inspector said Wednesday that a jail inmate he interviewed about a missing Tennessee woman said he would plead to charges in the case, a year before another man was charged with her kidnapping and slaying.
Senior Inspector John Walker testified at Zachary Adams' trial in Savannah, Tennessee. Adams has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, raping and killing nursing student Holly Bobo. She was 20 when she disappeared from her home in Parsons on April 13, 2011. Her remains were found in woods 3 ½ years later not far from her Decatur County home, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Nashville.
Before resting Wednesday afternoon, Adams' defense tried to poke holes in the prosecution's case. Jason Autry, who also is charged with kidnapping, raping and killing Bobo, testified that Adams told him he and two other men raped Bobo. Autry said he served as a lookout when Adams shot Bobo by a river.
But defense attorney Jennifer Thompson tried to present alternate suspects, including Terry Britt, who lived near Bobo and had a criminal past.
Under questioning by Thompson, Walker said he interviewed Britt in jail in March 2013. Walker said he told Britt that investigators believed he had kidnapped and harmed Bobo, and disposed of her belongings. Walker said Britt told him "sounds like you have it all figured out" and that he would "plead to it."
Walker did not elaborate on charges to which Britt said he would plead guilty. Walker said he gave the information to the TBI.
Britt's home and property had been searched and his phones and home had been under surveillance as part of the Bobo case, but he was never charged in her abduction and he was in jail on a separate charge when Walker interviewed him. Britt is a convicted sex offender stemming from an earlier case.
Adams was charged in March 2014. He faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.
Also Wednesday, a cellphone design expert testified that Adams' device and Bobo's phone were not in the same location until about an hour after she was reporting missing. Jonathan Reeves, president of JDR Telecom Solutions, said Bobo's and Adams' devices were in separate places in Decatur County from about 8:17 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. Bobo was reported missing by her brother at about 8 a.m.
Adams did not testify in his own defense.
On Tuesday, Terry Dicus, a former TBI agent who served as a lead investigator in the case, said he had ruled out Adams as the person who had kidnapped Bobo. Dicus testified that cellphones belonging to Adams and Bobo were too far apart within a two-minute span shortly after she was abducted.
Dicus said the TBI investigated Britt closely because of his past sex crime and a questionable alibi. Walker, the U.S. Marshals inspector, had interviewed Britt at Dicus' request.
Dicus was placed on desk duty and barred from pursuing leads in the case in 2013. TBI agent Jack Van Hooser testified that Dicus "needed to be benched" because he had lost objectivity.
"He had tunnel vision on one particular suspect," Van Hooser said.
Bobo's disappearance led to a massive search and the case received national attention. The TBI has said the Bobo investigation is the most exhaustive and expensive in the agency's history.