Ryan Duke returns to Irwin Co. court

Ryan Duke returns to Irwin Co. court

OCILLA, GA (WALB) - Attorneys were back at the Irwin County Courthouse Tuesday, where Ryan Duke was back in court for day two of a hearing.

Duke is accused of murder in the 2005 disappearance and death of Tara Grinstead, an Irwin County High School teacher and beauty queen.

WALB’s Asia Wilson covered the pre-trial hearing Tuesday in Irwin County and has a look at what happened.

On Monday, Duke was denied bond.

The key focus for the pre-trial hearing were on two motions as well as a jury questionnaire.

One motion attorneys discussed was the motion to compel discovery.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys argued about when the entire case file also known as discovery, should be delivered to each party.

Prosecutors filed this motion in hopes the court would require the defense team to serve the state with written intention to present an alibi defense.

Ashleigh and John Merchant, Duke’s attorneys, argued that the state should also include any summaries from expert witnesses, including all DNA tests from scientists.

The state said they’ve made available everything thus far, but they’re asking Duke’s attorneys to offer up the same.

Judge Bill Reinhardt ruled that all files, including evidence and summaries from experts, be submitted from the state by Feb. 22 and by the defense by March 8.

The “motion to compel discovery” was important in Tuesday’s hearing because both sides argued that the discovery, also known as the case file, needs to be delivered to both parties before the trial on April 1.

The entire case files should include all copies of photographs, reports, audio and visual tapes, recordings and more.

District attorneys said they’ve provided everything thus far.

The defense argued that the state should also present recent summaries and reports from experts and crime lab scientist so they can respond to the evidence.

“So we certainly can’t respond in turn until we know exactly who they’re going to designate to do DNA or any expert for that matter,” said John Merchant.

While America has had its eye on this case for the past 13 years, prosecutors said they are still collecting forensic evidence. And because of this motion to compel discovery, that evidence, along with summaries from experts, will have to be turned in fairly soon.

Prosecutors also said they turned in recent DNA evidence.

District attorneys collected samples from a latex glove found outside Grinstead’s home using ‘True Allele.’

The new co-mingled DNA method showed Duke and Grinstead’s samples, but also a third person’s.

Prosecutors also collected palm print samples for 10 days. Now they will undergo another palm print test to ensure it fully matches Duke’s fingerprints.

The defense team argues all of this and summaries from other experts should be included in the case file by the required deadline.

“They have to summarize that for us to write it. I understand where she’s coming from about the analysis of the bone fragments. They haven’t even designated a DNA expert. We don’t know who they’re going to call,” John Merchant said.

Prosecutors said there will most likely be one more pre-trial hearing ahead of the actual trial on April 1.

WALB was told that hearing will most likely consist of that new ‘True Allele’ scientific method and other DNA evidence.


WATCH LIVE: We're back in the Irwin County Courthouse for the second day of Ryan Duke's hearing.

Posted by WALB News 10 on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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