The lengthy, at times painstakingly slow process of selecting a jury in the Holly Bobo murder trial began on Wednesday morning in Hardin County with some 200 potential jurors being summoned to the courthouse.
Wearing khakis, black Vans and a blue button down shirt Zach Adams sat in the front of the courtroom as prospective jurors were questioned about their thoughts on the death penalty and their knowledge of the case. It was the first time in years that Adams appeared in public not bound by shackles, handcuffs and dressed in a bright orange prison provided jump suit.
Zach Adams, his brother, Dylan, and another man, Jason Autry, are all accused of killing and kidnapping nursing student Holly Bobo in April of 2011.
Judge Creed McGinley told prospective jurors that their honesty and candor were crucial for the voir dire process.
"You can't base a verdict on what you've seen, heard or read," Judge McGinley told the courtroom. "We're using today to narrow the pool, to make sure we have people to serve in this case."
Officials expect the process of narrowing down the jury pool to last the remainder of the week. Jurors who make it through the initial selection process will then be summoned back to Hardin County court on July 6. The murder trial of Zach Adams is scheduled to begin on July 10 of this year.
Adams appeared attentive through out much of the process, continually looking up from his pen and paper as the judge and attorneys questioned potential jurors.
Ten prospective jurors were dismissed immediately due to life and work hardships identified days prior to Wednesday's hearing.
The intense national publicity the initial search for Holly and her subsequent murder were cause for concern for both defense attorneys and prosecutors. The 12 jurors and three alternates selected to try Zach Adams will be sequestered for the entire trial which is expected to last two weeks.
In an effort to avoid conflicts with the media coverage the case has received, Judge McGinley moved the case to Hardin County. Zach Adams' fate will be decided inside a courtroom built decades ago - the wood paneling, chandeliers and hard wooden benches symbolic of an era in the Tennessee judicial system no longer on display in larger cities like Nashville.
Another issue raised during the jury pool selection process was the death penalty. State prosecutors have said they intent to seek the death penalty for Zach Adams because of his alleged role in Holly Bobo's murder.
Each juror was asked if he or she could consider the death penalty as a possible punishment for someone convicted of first degree murder.
"We know we will have issues surrounding the death penalty. If you convict the defendant you have three options for punishment," Judge McGinley said.
"This case must be decided based on evidence and the law," he added.