DECATURVILLE, Tenn. -
Jason Autry, the latest suspect charged in the 2011 kidnapping and murder of nursing student Holly Bobo, begged for prayers and help as he appeared before a judge in Decatur County for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
Autry, 39, was indicted on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and first degree felony murder Tuesday, eight weeks after co-defendant Zachary Adams was indicted on the same charges.
Autry began professing his innocence from the moment he arrived at the courthouse and stepped out of his transport van and later told Judge Creed McGinley, “I want to say one thing. I am innocent, sir. Right hand before God, I am innocent.”
Autry's appearance was brief, though he had time to complain several times of his handcuffs being too tight, saying he hasn’t had feeling in his hands “since leaving Nashville.”
He told the judge he needed time to figure out if he could afford to hire an attorney.
“This is a serious as it gets,” Judge McGinley told him. “I strongly urge you to secure the counsel of your choice rather than a counsel of my choice.”
Autry is being held at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville on an unrelated aggravated assault conviction.
As deputies led him away, he waived to his mother in the courtroom and once again professed his innocence.
“I need help,” he said. “I'm innocent.”
Following Autry’s appearance, Adams was arraigned on the latest charge against him, coercion of a witness. He pleaded not guilty.
His lawyer told the judge Adams would need the state to pay for some of his legal fees. Judge McGinley reviewed Adam’s application and approved it.
Adams attorney also asked the judge to move him from the Chester County jail and into a Tennessee Department of Correction facility. She told the judge he is in isolation without access to pencil, paper or a computer so he can aid in his own defense.
The judge said he would rule on that matter June 4, when Adams and Autry are due back in court.
Authorities say Adams and Autry are longtime friends, though it’s unclear their connection to Bobo or her family.
Bobo disappeared from her home on Swan Johnson Road outside Parsons, about 100 miles west of Nashville, on the morning of April 13, 2011.