• State Supreme Court rules against Ryan Duke; Tara Grinstead trial could continue

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    IRWIN COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled against the man accused of killing south Georgia beauty queen and teacher, Tara Grinstead.

    [READ: Who is Tara Grinstead?]

    Ryan Duke’s lawyers argued they were unconstitutionally denied funds for experts they need to testify on Duke’s behalf. A judge put the trial on hold as justices debated the argument.

    On Monday morning, the court refused to hear another round of arguments on whether the state should pay for Duke's expert witnesses and investigator. 

    Channel 2's Tony Thomas said the case now goes back to the local Irwin County judge to either hold the murder trial or formally ask for the Supreme Court to decide the funding question.

    “When you have to try a case twice because the first trial was not constitutionally fair, that helps nobody. That wastes a lot of taxpayer money,” said attorney Ashleigh Merchant. 

    The Supreme Court said there are overriding legal issues that involve more than this case, but it needs the right legal path to be able to weigh in.


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    If the high court does get involved again, any trial would likely be pushed into next year.

    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.

    [READ MORE: Bo Dukes, charged in Tara Grinstead case, in custody after 5-day manhunt, police say]

    Dukes was recently 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.

    Grinstead's sister, Anita Gattis, told Thomas she’s worried her sister is being forgotten in all the legal maneuvering.

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