Decatur County Chancellor Carma McGee ruled that her court did not have the jurisdiction to decide a lawsuit filed by Shayne Austin against the State of Tennessee.
Austin, 29, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for helping investigators locate the body of Bobo, in March.
Austin, his attorney Luke Evans, TBI assistant special agent in charge Russ Winkler and 24th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney General Beth Boswell signed the agreement March 6 of this year.
According to the agreement the state “agrees to grant him immunity for all charges arising out of the disposal, destruction, burial and/or concealment of Holly Bobo’s Deceased body, conditioned upon him assisting us in recovering the body of Holly Lynn Bobo.”
But, the TBI and prosecutors later said he had not been truthful, cooperative or forthcoming.
They informed his attorney, Luke Evans, the immunity agreement they all signed was null and void.
The assistant district attorney then told Evans via email that she would give him a courtesy call when she indicts Austin.
Evans then filed a lawsuit to prevent an indictment and to force the state to stand behind the agreement.
“They made their decision and made their bed, they should be forced to lay in it,” Evans said in court. “They bargained for benefit and Mr. Shane Kyle Austin bargained for benefit there was consideration given a written contract was formed.”
The state contended that the chancery court could not stop the prosecutorial process.
“The relief the plaintiff seeks is to stop the prosecution of a criminal case and this court under the case law that's been provided does not have the jurisdiction to do that,” Assistant Attorney General Scott Sutherland said.
Sutherland also said Evans wants to depose TBI agents for his lawsuit and that would risk the ongoing Bobo investigation.
Evans said allowing the immunity agreement to be nullified would trample on the constitutional rights of his client and cause a chilling effect for others who might help investigations.
“They say one thing then they do another,” he said in court. “It is more tyrannical of the state to coming here today and ask this court to ignore this [agreement].”
Chancellor McGee ordered the case transferred to circuit court because it is based on criminal procedures.
A date for the case to be heard in the circuit court has not been determined.
Outside court when asked about the judgment he said “no comment.” He also did not answer questions about Bobo’s whereabouts.
The crux of his immunity agreement was leading investigators to Bobo’s remains.
Evans said after the hearing that the lawsuit is not over and he will fight in circuit court. He also professed Austin’s innocence in connection with Bobo’s kidnapping and murder.
“I can tell you my client had no involvement in the disappearance or anything that happened with Holly Bobo,” he said. “You should be able to rely on the word given to you by the state of Tennessee and in this instance they're trying to go back on their word.”
The Bobo family was in court for the hearing. They did not want to speak on camera, though Karen Bobo said off-camera, “I don’t want anyone to forget about Holy and her rights,” she said. “Justice for Holly and ignore this circus side show that these attorneys are having.”
A future court date in circuit court to take up the immunity agreement lawsuit has not been set.
Austin has not been charged in connection with Bobo’s disappearance and murder. Her body has not been found.
Zachary Adams and Jason Autry have both been charged with first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in connection with Bobo’s disappearance.
Autry is scheduled to be in court Wednesday at 1 p.m. to take up motions, including a request from his defense team to have face to face meetings.
Right now one of his attorney’s John Huberson told News 2 they can only video chat or talk to him through his cell door.Click here for complete coverage of the Holly Bobo case.
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