DECATURVILLE, Tenn — Judge Charles Creed McGinley denied a request from state prosecutors to keep the men accused of kidnapping and murdering Holly Bobo from speaking about the case during a hearing on Wednesday.
McGinley announced his decision during a status update hearing for defendant Jason Autry, who faces the murder and kidnapping charges along with Holladay resident Zachary Rye Adams.
Assistant District Attorney General Beth Hall argued that Jason Autry's interview with WTVF News Channel 5 and his effort to pass a note to news reporters standing outside the courtroom before today's hearing were examples of how Autry's efforts to contact the media could unfairly influence the outcome of a trial.
The motion filed by prosecutors Tuesday requested the court to order "all trial participants, including lawyers, parties, and witnesses, to refrain from commenting about this trial as those comments, whether intentionally or unintentionally, pose a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a fair trial because of the publicity of the proceedings."
McGinley said that he would not grant the gag order, but that it "behooves everyone involved to try the case in court and not in the media."
McGinley repeated again in court today that he intended to keep the proceedings involving Autry and Adams moving as quickly as possible while maintaining fairness to both sides.
"I am fully cognizant that there is voluminous discovery that is out of the ordinary for a criminal case," he said. "So I have made a scheduling order that is a bit more liberal than I would normally use."
McGinley said he wanted the prosecution to furnish both defendants in the case with discovery — the prosecution's evidence against them — in 90 days. After which, he said, the defense would have 60 days to make pretrial motions, to which the state would then have 30 more days to respond.
He said there would then be 30 days for judicial review.
If a plea agreement is not reached by Jan. 14, then a trial date will be set.
McGinley said he expects to issue an identical scheduling order for Adams during Adams' status update hearing on June 4, although the defendants will currently be tried separately.
The judge said he would have to issue a decision if a request were made to join the two trials together.
McGinley said that after a three-year investigation it appears the prosecution has "mountains of materials."
The prosecution said the defense is providing the state with several external hard drives on which to place much of the discovery materials that have been recorded in a digital format.
Toward the end of the hearing, Autry's attorney, Mike Flanagan, requested that at some point in the near future the prosecution give some notice of what punishment they would request for Autry. Hall said the state had talked with an attorney, and mentioned the death penalty.
When this was mentioned, Autry pursed his lips, turned his head, looked back at his mother Shirley King and winked.