Georgia Supreme Court accepts appeal for man charged with murdering Tara Grinstead

Georgia Supreme Court accepts appeal for man charged with murdering Tara Grinstead

Ryan Duke in court and Tara Grinstead 

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News is staying on a developing story surrounding the death of missing teacher Tara Grinstead.

Channel 2 Gwinnett County bureau chief Tony Thomas has learned that the Supreme Court of Georgia has accepted an appeal in the Ryan Duke murder case.

In a unanimous decision, the Georgia Supreme Court accepted the appeal from Duke’s defense team.

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Grinstead was reported missing in October 2005 when she failed to show up to teach history at Irwin County High School, and her disappearance made national headlines. No arrests were made until February 2017, when two former friends were linked to Grinstead’s death: Duke and Bo Dukes.

Dukes was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for concealing Grinstead’s death. He and Duke allegedly disposed of Grinstead’s body by burning it in a pecan farm.

Police say Duke confessed to the 2005 murder of Grinstead, but he now claims he was high on drugs and described to cops what another man did, not his own actions.

Duke’s trial was delayed last year. He was represented by a public defender but then chose three metro-Atlanta attorneys who agreed to take on his case free of charge.

He is appealing a lower court ruling that he can’t use state money for indigent defendants to pay for hiring expert witnesses and to test DNA. The court agreed to hear the case.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the defense funding issue later this year.

The funding issue is what’s delaying the murder trial of the man accused of murdering Grinstead.