OCILLA, Ga. — As testimony wrapped up on day one of the Ryan Duke murder trial, jurors got their first look at a key piece of evidence while prosecutors spent this first day of testimony taking jurors through the final hours of Tara Grinstead’s life.
Duke’s defense team spent the day trying to cast doubt on a latex glove found in Grinstead’s yard.
Grinstead’s high school students said she helped prepare for a beauty pageant the weekend she was killed in 2005.
“Those are the items she wore that night,” friend Dana Giddens told the court.
“Why did you drive to Tara’s residence that night?” attorneys asked friend Heath Dykes.
“Because I was concerned something had happened,” Dykes said.
Several witnesses described Grinstead’s final weekend and how they never suspected anything was wrong until she vanished.
It would be years before authorities would think they solved the mystery. Duke, a former student at the high school where Grinstead taught, confessed to killing her during a botched burglary.
Prosecutors say a latex glove found in Grinstead’s yard had Duke’s DNA on it.
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“The biggest clue you will hear about is this glove,” prosecutor J.D. Hart said.
But defense attorneys said the confession was fake and Duke took the rap because he was scared of his friend, Bo Dukes. Defense attorneys said the glove was not there when Grinstead disappeared.
“That glove was not there Sunday night. That glove did not appear until a day later,” defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant said.
They also questioned Dykes about it.
“Did you see a glove or anything like that?” defense attorney Evan Gibbs asked.
“No sir, I didn’t,” Dykes said.
“Do you have any way of knowing that item was there that night?” Gibbs asked.
“I don’t have any way of knowing,” Dykes said.
The DNA found on that latex glove, and what that glove means, is expected to be very prominent in this trial.
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