Prosecutors say DNA links Ryan Duke to killing of Tara Grinstead

OCILLA, Ga. — Jurors got their first look Tuesday at DNA evidence key in a South Georgia murder mystery.

Ryan Duke is on trial for murdering Tara Grinstead nearly 17 years ago.

Prosecutors are trying to link Duke to the scene where they believe Grinstead was killed.

Before that, prosecutors gave jurors a tour of Grinstead’s house.

Photograph by photograph, jurors were given an inside look of Grinstead’s home two days after she disappeared in 2005.

In her bedroom, an alarm clock was on the floor. In the hallway, a knocked over candle.

“Did you notice any signs of broken windows or doors kicked in or anything?” attorneys asked Bill Barrs with the Ocilla Police Department.

“No,” Barrs said.


Grinstead vanished in 2005. Years later in 2017, agents charged Duke with her murder.

He confessed, but now says that was a drug induced lie.

The jury also saw pictures of a latex glove apparently dropped in the front yard.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation examiners said they found a minute amount of Duke’s DNA on the glove.

“This was the first case I did that involved touch DNA, said Lisa Hobgood with the GBI’s crime lab.

Prosecutors said that DNA connects Duke to the murder.

His defense team insists it only shows he was there at some point, but not necessarily when Grinstead was killed.

“He was not in her home, he did not assault her, he did not burglarize her. He did not do any of those things,” defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant said.

We could see for the first time Duke’s videotaped confession as early as Wednesday.