Trial starts Monday for man accused of killing south Georgia beauty queen in 2005

IRWIN COUNTY, Ga. — Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in Irwin County, for the trial for the disappearance and death of Tara Grinstead, a teacher and beauty queen.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas got a preview of what evidence both the prosecution and defense plan to show.

Three things are expected to play key roles in this trial: Bo Dukes’ testimony (the defendant’s friend and the only one already convicted in connection with this case), a confession from defendant Ryan Duke that he says was a lie and a latex glove found just outside Grinstead’s house.

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As Duke’s trial in the murder of Grinstead begins, DNA found on a discarded latex glove is the only true physical evidence prosecutors have tying Duke to the crime scene. But an attorney who is observing the case, Phil Holloway, says the glove is not a smoking gun.

“All that glove, all that it proves is he was there at that residence at some point. He doesn’t prove he was there when she died,” Holloway said.

That latex glove was found in the front yard near the base of a tree. For years no one knew what significance, if any, it played in the case, but then a new type of DNA test was performed.

What that miniscule amount of DNA on the glove means is up for debate. Duke is accused of murdering Grinstead in 2005, then, with the help of his friend Bo Dukes, burning her body in nearby woods.


Bo Dukes lied to authorities at first, then said Ryan Duke committed the crime. If he testifies, Dukes will be a star witness in the case.

It’s believed he may plead the fifth like he did in a previous hearing. Prosecutors have Ryan Duke’s confession. But Duke’s defense team insists that was a false confession and hope to convince the jury at trial.

With all that and much more to consider in the coming days, opening statements in this case are set to begin on Monday.

We will have a Channel 2 Action News reporter and photographer in the courtroom as this trial plays out. As soon as the verdict comes down, we’ll have it live on air and alert you on the Channel 2 Action News app.

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