September hearing date set for Ryan Duke’s defense in Tara Grinstead case

September hearing date set for Ryan Duke’s defense in Tara Grinstead case

IRWIN CO., Ga. (WALB) - A hearing in the case against Ryan Duke for the death of Tara Grinstead in 2005 in Irwin County is set to happen in September.

Prosecutors said a motions hearing is set for September 13.

Grinstead went missing in October of 2005 and her remains were later found on a Ben Hill County pecan orchard, owned by Bo Dukes’ uncle.


Dukes was also indicted in Grinstead’s death in Wilcox and Ben Hill counties. He was convicted in Wilcox County in March for hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal, concealing a death and two counts of making a false statement.

Dukes was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He will still be tried in Ben Hill County.


Duke was indicted in Irwin County for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another.

In August 2018, John and Ashleigh Merchant took over as Duke’s defense attorneys.

Several motions were filed in Duke’s case. Some of those pertained to state funding for expert witnesses and an investigator.

Later, the Merchants filed an emergency motion to appeal the case with the Georgia Supreme Court.

That appeal moved the jurisdiction of the case from Irwin County to the state supreme court.

In June, the Georgia Supreme Court denied the defense’s request to overturn the pretrial decision and jurisdiction of the trial was returned to Irwin County.

WALB will continue to cover this case as it unfolds.

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