Day 3: Bo Dukes admits in interview shown in trial to helping dispose of Tara Grinstead’s body

The man accused of killing Tara Grinstead, a teacher and former beauty queen, made an...
The man accused of killing Tara Grinstead, a teacher and former beauty queen, made an appearance in court Monday.
Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 6:46 PM EDT
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ABBEVILLE, GA (WALB) - The third day of the Bo Dukes trial got underway Wednesday morning in Wilcox County following explosive testimony on Tuesday.

The prosecution showed the court a video of an interview with Dukes. In the video, Dukes admitted he helped dispose of the body, and said they spent two days burning the body.

On the video, Dukes said he told Stephen Duke, Ryan Duke’s brother, about what happened on that weekend. He said that they loaded her body into his Ford F-150 and Ryan Duke drove the truck to the pecan orchard near Fitzgerald.

Grinstead’s body was face up and wasn’t clothed. He also said there were marks on her neck.

On the GBI video, Dukes said that he told several people about Grinstead’s death and what had happened. He gave the GBI the phone numbers of several people he told the story to in 2007 or 2008. He said most people thought he was making up the story.

Dukes said in his interview that Ryan Duke told him he strangled Grinstead on her bed. He said during the interview that they threw her keys and purse into a dumpster before disposing of her body.

Dukes said he was shocked Ryan Duke could find the orchard because he had only been there a few times. He said he helped move Grinstead’s body.

Dukes showed the GBI approximately where they burned her body in the orchard on a photograph during his interview.

During his interview with the GBI, Dukes said they got the wood to burn the body from a shed. The two men left the fire and let it burn overnight. Dukes said he thinks Grinstead was wearing a belly button ring when this all happened.

Dukes said in his interview that he still doesn’t know why Ryan Duke killed Grinstead.

The two men had a conversation about not saying anything about what happened, but Dukes said he told Brooke Sheridan and his ex-wife about what happened. Dukes said he finally came forward because he wants this to be over in his interview.

The GBI asked Dukes about reaching out to Ryan Duke to ask him about talking to the GBI.

Dukes said he has returned to the site where Grinstead’s body was burned multiple times.

When asked about talking to Ryan Duke, Dukes said he was worried about Ryan putting a bullet in his back. He also said that it has bothered him that Grinstead’s family never knew what became of her.

Ryan Duke was not known to carry guns or knives and he had never seen Ryan behave in a violent manner, Dukes said in the interview.


Scheduled for 1:30: The BO DUKES trial resumes in Abbeville. WATCH HERE....

Posted by WALB News 10 on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

WATCH LIVE: We're back in Wilcox County for day 3 of the Bo Dukes trial in the Tara Grinstead case. Read a recap of day 2:

Posted by WALB News 10 on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The trial resumed at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon after a lunch break with cross-examination of GBI investigator Jason Shoudel by the defense. The defense then re-directed with questions of Shoudel.

Defense attorney John Fox then continued questioning the agent.

When the state re-directed, the district attorney asked Shoudel to go back over his notes as to what Dukes said about the temperature required to burn a human body.

The state called District Attorney Paul Bowden to the stand at 2 p.m. He testified that he met in Perry with Dukes, GBI agents, including Shoudel, Fox and Brad Rigby of the district attorney’s office. Shoudel later left the meeting.

No deals were made to Dukes about reduced charges or lighter sentences.

Bowden defined “use immunity,” meaning that the state cannot use what a witness says against that same witness.

GBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Todd Crosby, also a crime scene analyst, was called to the witness stand. Crosby said he was one of the agents who investigated the pecan orchard to try to find human bones, using several techniques to find human remains.

After demonstrating “witching” or “divining” rods for the jury, Crosby was dismissed from the witness stand with no line of questioning from the defense team.

Anthropologist Dr. Alice Gooding was called to the stand to provide insight into her role as a consultant in the investigation. She spent an extended period identifying human bone and tooth fragments that were recovered from the burn site identified by Dukes.

Gooding was dismissed from the witness stand and Lisa Ellison, a forensic biologist, was called to the stand to provide the court with information on her part of the investigation involving DNA analysis in the case.

Ellison testified extensively about how testing is done, and what tests she personally conducted, including using Grinstead’s toothbrush for comparison. She determined that Grinstead’s DNA was present on the glove samples she tested.

The defense had no questions for Ellison.

Next to testify was Ashley Hinkle of the GBI forensic lab. She defined DNA and told the court how the scientists obtain DNA from samples they get from detectives, to obtain a DNA profile. Hinkle was assigned to the Grinstead case in 2010. She identified documents that related to the Grinstead case, handed her by the district attorney.

Hinkle said the DNA found on the glove did not match Dukes but it did match Ryan Duke and there was DNA that also matched Grinstead found on the glove.

“He was like, well man I need to tell you something. And that’s when I was pretty much shocked,” John McCullough testified Tuesday.

McCullough met Dukes in basic training where they became what he described as “battle buddies.”

He testified Tuesday that Dukes told him about Ryan Duke asking him to borrow his truck after he killed Grinstead, their former teacher, in 2005.

Below is an excerpt of the McCullough’s testimony:

McCullough: He had said that technically he killed Tara to him.

Lawyer: The friend had said that?

McCullough: Yes. That he had beat her and accidentally strangled her and killed her and he didn’t know what to do. So he needed her truck to move her body.

McCullough testified he tried reporting what Dukes had told him multiple times, but no one would listen.

That’s when he called the GBI which prompted this recording:

McCullough: He said he killed her. They got in an argument or whatever. And then I was like what are you talking about? And he was like you know he killed that girl on the bulletin board. You know came to borrow my truck and he was upset and all this other stuff so I told him I’d help him.

McCullough: “You know it takes over 12...12,00 degrees to burn human bones?”

It’s believed Grinstead’s body was taken to a pecan orchard in Ben Hill County and burned.

Dukes’ uncle, Randy Hudson, who owns the property testified he had warned his nephew in 2005 about burning on the land.

“He just didn’t listen and he could have done a lot of harm," Hudson said.

You can watch the trial live on the WALB News 10 Facebook page. You can also follow along with live updates on the WALB News 10 Twitter.

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