A convicted felon who was released from prison after his trial testimony helped convict a Tennessee man in the slaying of nursing student Holly Bobo has been arrested and charged with weapons and drug offenses.
Jason Autry was arrested near a rural field after he tried to run away from a sheriff’s deputy last Thursday, according to federal and state court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Autry, who has been convicted of 10 felonies in state and federal court, had a rifle with him and he also was in possession of methamphetamine, the documents said. Autry has been charged in federal court with possessing a gun as a felon. He also has been charged with state court with drug possession and evading arrest. Court records do not show if he has a lawyer.
Hardin County Judge C. Creed McGinley sentenced Autry to eight years in state prison in September after Autry pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit murder and facilitation of especially aggravated kidnapping in the Bobo case.
Bobo was 20 when she vanished from their home in rural Parsons, Tennessee, in April 2011, prompting a massive search of woods, fields and farms. Her remains were found more than three years later, in September 2014, in woods not far from her home, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Nashville.
Autry testified in the 2017 trial of Zachary Adams, who was found guilty of murder, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape. Adams was sentenced to life in prison plus 50 years.
Autry received leniency and struck a deal with prosecutors in return for his detailed, graphic testimony about Bobo’s kidnapping, rape and killing. Autry said he served as a lookout as Adams fatally shot Bobo under a bridge near a river.
“It sounded like, boom, boom, boom, underneath that bridge. It was just one shot but it echoed,” Autry testified. “Birds went everywhere, all up under that bridge. Then just dead silence for just a second.”
“His testimony was some of the most credible, persuasive testimony I’ve ever heard given in a courtroom,” the judge said at Autry’s Sept. 14 sentencing.
Autry was credited with time served and released from prison hours after his sentencing. He is now back in jail after an encounter with a sheriff’s deputy in Benton County, about 85 miles (136 kilometers) west of Nashville.
The deputy saw Autry lying in a field and searched him for weapons, finding none, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by Ashley Robertson, a task force officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Deputy Stacey Bostwick let Autry go after finding no pending arrest warrants. Bostwick then searched the area and found a rifle, the affidavit said.
The deputy returned to his car and followed Autry, finding him walking down a driveway of a home in Holladay, the affidavit said. Autry ran toward the home, but stopped when ordered by Bostwick, who asked him about the rifle.
“Autry said he had been attempting to shoot a deer with the gun and that he had lied down in the field when he observed Deputy Bostwick’s patrol car,” the affidavit said.
Autry also had a small cellophane wrapper with “a clear crystal rock type substance” that Autry said was meth, state arrest warrants said.
Autry faces at least 15 years in prison if convicted of the federal weapons charge.