IRWIN COUNTY, Ga. — The man accused of murdering a former Georgia beauty queen and teacher revealed gruesome details about her murder and blamed his friend, who is also facing charges in the case.
Ryan Duke is accused of killing Tara Grinstead after she vanished from Ocilla in 2005. On Tuesday, Duke took the stand in his own defense.
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Channel 2 Action News was the only news station with a photographer and a reporter in the courtroom Tuesday, when Duke tried to pin the murder on his former best friend, Bo Dukes.
Bo Dukes is currently in jail on charges that he concealed Grinstead’s death.
On Tuesday, Duke took the stand to defend himself, telling the jury that he lied when he confessed to Grinstead’s murder several years ago. He told police he broke into Grinstead’s house looking for money. She surprised him and he struck and killed her. He then claimed he got Bo Dukes to help him burn her body in the woods.
Duke claimed that he lied because he was afraid of Bo Dukes.
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Duke said that now that Bo Dukes is in prison, he felt free to tell the truth.
Duke said that on the night Grinstead disappeared, he was throwing up and passed out at the base of a toilet in a mobile home miles from Grinstead’s house. Duke said Bo Dukes woke him up Sunday morning.
“He looked panicked, freaked out,” Duke said. He claimed Bo Dukes said he killed Grinstead and showed him her purse and driver’s license. Duke said that at the time, he thought Bo Dukes had just stolen the purse, and he intended to return it.
Duke said he took Bo Dukes’ truck and drove to Ocilla.
“I called 411 to get her phone number,” Duke said, claiming that no one answered.
Duke told jurors that Bo Dukes took him to Grinstead’s bod in a pecan orchard to proved to him that she was dead.
“She was beat up. She had bruises on her arms and legs,” Duke said. “I’m dry-heaving, I’m crying.”
Duke said that Bo Dukes started laughing at him. He then pushed up her shirt and started fondling her.
Duke told jurors that Bo Dukes then lit the body on fire.
Later, prosecutors tried to show that Duke is a proven liar who can’t keep his stories straight.
“You are willing to lie when the stakes are high,” prosecutors said.
“I have been as honest as I humanly can be today,” Duke said. “I can’t undo the mistakes I’ve made.”
Bo Dukes also took the stand Tuesday but refused to answer any questions.
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