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Suspects pile up in Bobo case
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DECATURVILLE (AP) — A Benton County man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to murder and kidnapping charges in the disappearance of 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo three years ago.
Jason Autry, 39, entered his plea in Decatur County a day after a specially called grand jury indicted him.
"I'm falsely accused and innocent," he told the judge. "Right hand before God, I'm innocent."
A second defendant, Zachary Adams, also faces murder and kidnapping charges. The 29-year-old Benton County man pleaded not guilty to those charges in March. On Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty to an additional charge of coercion of a witness.
A third defendant could face charges in the case after prosecutors revoked an immunity agreement that had been worked out for him.
The March 6 agreement granted Shayne Austin, 29, of Decatur County, immunity from various charges, including "all charges arising out of the disposal, destruction, burial, and/or concealment of Holly Bobo's deceased body," according to documents filed in Decatur County Chancery Court and posted online by The Jackson Sun, which first reported them.
The agreement was dependent on Bobo's body being recovered from the place where Austin said it was buried.
The immunity agreement also includes a provision to grant Austin immunity for drug-related criminal activity "not to include any drugs administered to Holly Lynn Bobo."
Bobo disappeared from her family's home near Parsons on the morning of April 13, 2011. Her brother told police he saw a man dressed in camouflage leading her away into the woods. Since then, investigators and volunteers have scoured the woods and fields of the town of about 2,400 for clues. Investigators say they have not yet recovered Bobo's body.
Documents show Austin met with TBI agents the same day the agreement was signed. Later that evening, Assistant District Attorney General Beth Boswell sent an email to Austin's attorney, Luke Evans, saying Austin was not "truthful, candid, forthcoming or cooperative" and therefore "not compliant with the immunity agreement."
Austin filed a lawsuit on April 1 to force the state to grant him immunity. The lawsuit contends he has complied with the terms of the agreement and Austin waived his constitutional protections, including the right not to incriminate himself, to get immunity. It claims the government is in breach of contract for reneging on its obligations under the agreement.