What’s next for Ryan Duke in Grinstead murder case

Supreme court decision in Ryan Duke case update

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court denied Ryan Duke’s request to overturn a pretrial decision made by an Irwin County Court in the Tara Grinstead case.

The Supreme Court heard the appeal in May.

The issue at the center of the request was funding for the defense from the state to pay for expert witnesses when Duke’s case goes to trial.

Duke is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another in connection to the 2005 death and disappearance of Grinstead.

On Tuesday, attorneys said the fate of this case is up in the air as they wait for jurisdiction to be transferred back to Irwin County.

It’s been two years since Duke was charged with the death of Grinstead.

“We can’t try the case without experts. I mean there’s only so much that lawyers can do,” said Ashleigh Merchant, Duke’s attorney.

Merchant is one of Duke’s private attorneys who said that even though Georgia’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal application for a funding decision made by the Irwin County Court, she and the other attorneys will continue to fight for Duke’s Constitutional rights.

“Me being able to work for free is one thing, but there are things that I just cannot do legally without some assistance,” said Merchant.

Merchant said they will keep trying in hopes that funds will be given to hire expert witnesses in this case.

“We’re hopeful that it will go back up to the Supreme Court on a certification from the trial court. So that’s our hope and that’s our next step,” said Merchant.

First, prosecutors said a Certificate of Immediate Review will have to be signed by Trial Court Judge Bill Reinhardt before Supreme Court justices can hear the issue again.

Whether this will happen, is up in the air. Prosecutors said Reinhardt can only sign the certificate after jurisdiction is back in the lower court’s hands. But if he chooses not to, Duke and his pro bono attorneys could be back in court sooner than they thought.

“We could go to trial the next day. It’ll be put back on the trial calendar,” Merchant added.

Prosecutors said they are waiting on a remittitur, also known as a transfer of jurisdiction to be issued from the Supreme Court.

Attorneys said this process could take up to two weeks before the power is fully back in Irwin County.

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