TBI pulls support from 24th District after argument with DA - WSMV News 4

TBI pulls support from 24th District after argument with DA

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Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd talks to reporters on Wednesday. Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd talks to reporters on Wednesday.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn TBI Director Mark Gwyn

An argument between TBI Director Mark Gwyn and District Attorney Matt Stowe has left law enforcement in five counties without access to the TBI labs and investigators.

The argument was about the Holly Bobo case, but has now spilled out to effect everything from identity theft to meth manufacturing in the five counties of the 24th Judicial District – Benton, Carroll, Decatur, Hardin and Henry.

Stowe said he can't believe he is actually discussing this, wondering why a private argument about an important and sensitive murder case ended up being a public story.

“There was a meeting on Friday and Director Gwyn and I had a heated exchanged, but at no point was I discussing cases other than Holly Bobo's,” Stowe said.

In a letter obtained by Channel 4, Gwyn wrote, “It is in the best interest of the integrity of the TBI to honor your original request and no longer provide services to the 24th Judicial District.”

Stowe said he never requested them to pull out. He said they were fighting, arguing and Gwyn walked out and did not come back in the meeting.

“The TBI director and I having an argument shouldn't affect a polygraph examiner, should not be affecting any of those things,” Stowe said. “We need to air our grievances together without affecting the people of the district.”

“We certainly regret these unprecedented circumstances playing out in the media,” Gwyn said Wednesday night in a press release. “But in a meeting last week, which included 30th District Attorney General Amy Weirich, 28th District Attorney and President of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference Garry Brown, and Wally Kirby, Executive Director of the Conference, Stowe made allegations of misconduct by TBI and other law enforcement agencies, both local and federal. He also repeatedly stated he wanted our agency to suspend all activities in his district, after which Weirich removed her office's resources from the Holly Bobo case. Stowe may characterize this as a misunderstanding, but his requests were clear and I wasn't the only one who heard it.”

Gwyn wants to have a meeting facilitated by the Tennessee District Attorney Generals Conference. Stowe said he is ready and willing.

“I can't help but believe that we can resolve this,” Stowe said. “My message to Director Gwyn is please do not bring the people of Tennessee into our argument. They do not need to be harmed by this.”

Stowe said this was a private case meeting about the Bobo case where arguments are actually routine.

Stowe said they were definitely yelling at each other, but it was Gwyn who stormed out of the meeting.

Gwyn's letter also said, “I feel it is important that facts and proof be brought to this meeting regarding allegations of misconduct made by you.”

Gwyn said he will not consider restoring services to that district until there is a meeting with the Tennessee Attorney Generals Conference involving all parties that were present.

“We have proudly served the 24th Judicial District - and its residents - for decades,” Gwyn said in a news release. “We hope Stowe will help us resolve these issues quickly, so we can get back to the important work of pursuing our core values of truth, bravery and integrity in his district as the state's lead law enforcement agency.”

There are questions on whether the TBI is allowed to suspend services for the people of five counties.

The most profile case the agency has been investigating is the disappearance and murder of Holly Bobo.

Zachary Adams and Jason Autry were indicted on charges of kidnapping and murder of Holly Bobo earlier this year. Later Dylan Adams, Zachary Adams' brother, was charged with two cases of rape. All three defendants had hearings in Decatur County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

“We're all still scratching our heads on that one,” said Byrd on how the TBI's suspension of services in the district will affect the Bobo case. “I don't really know enough about what's going on.”

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