Hearing continued for Ryan Duke, Bo Dukes Ben Hill Co. charges in Grinstead case

Two witnesses took the stand at the Tuesday hearing.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 8:39 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 11:24 PM EST
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FITZGERALD, Ga. (WALB) - The two men — one of which was convicted on Wilcox County charges and the other was acquitted of murder in Irwin County — charged in connection to the 2005 death and disappearance of an Irwin County teacher and beauty queen will be back in court Tuesday morning.

The court hearing was for Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes, who were both charged in connection to the death and disappearance of Tara Grinstead. Their attorneys are trying to get the charges in Ben Hill County thrown out, claiming the statute of limitations has run out.

The hearing was in Ben Hill County.

Two witnesses took the stand at the Tuesday hearing.

Gary Rothwell, the former special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Perry office, was the first witness.

Rothwell was questioned about a tip in 2005 that claimed both Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes claimed to have been involved in Grinstead’s death and burned her body. That tip came during a bonfire party and there was an incident report made, Rothwell testified. While on the stand, Rothwell that the tip wasn’t followed up on and it should have been. He was also questioned if the tip was followed up on 2008 and he said it wasn’t.

Rothwell was also questioned on a Youtube hoax video where someone claimed to have killed Grinstead.

“I’ve done a lot of cases but this is one that will follow me for the rest of my life,” Rothwell said.

The state argued the statute of limitations passed for murder charges. The defense argued murder is the only charge with no statute of limitations.

Jason Shoudel, the lead GBI agent on the Grinstead case, also took the witness stand.

Shoudel said the Grinstead case was the biggest file in GBI history. Several different documents from an over 4,000-page case file on Grinstead’s death and disappearance were called to question on Tuesday pertaining to charges against Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes in Ben Hill County.

Shoudel also recalled what led up to Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes’ arrests in 2017.

Shoudel also testified about what a former girlfriend of Bo Dukes told him about the location she heard Grinstead’s body was burned.

“She told me she and Bo had relationship issues. Bo talked to her about doing something terrible, taking her to the orchard and he assisted in burning her body, said he didn’t do it but he knew who did,” Shoudel said.

A decision was not reached at the Tuesday hearing. There will be a continuation of the hearing but a date has not been set yet.

What led up to the hearing:

In May 2022, Ryan Duke was found not guilty of malice and felony murder, burglary and aggravated assault of standing trial in Irwin County for charges related to Grinstead’s death. He was found guilty of concealing the death of another.

In 2019, Bo Dukes was convicted of making false statements, hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal and concealing a death for charges in Wilcox County related to Grinstead’s death.

Bo Dukes is still facing charges in Ben Hill County for Grinstead’s death. In June 2022, Ryan Duke was indicted on new charges in Ben Hill county.

This is a developing story that will be updated as the hearing progresses.

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