Duke to be tried in Grinstead death this year

Ryan Duke in court (Source: WALB)
Ryan Duke in court (Source: WALB)
Published: Jan. 12, 2018 at 4:46 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2018 at 5:34 PM EST
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OCILLA, GA (WALB) - Attorneys say they're hoping to bring the facts surrounding an Irwin County teacher's death to a close.

It's known to the court and people of South Georgia that the trial of Ryan Duke won't be one that goes unnoticed.

The Tara Grinstead case is one the people of Irwin County have been talking about for years, but even more so since 2017.

In the last year, the name Ryan Duke has flooded the town. Last February we saw him for the first time in the Irwin County courtroom, just hours after the GBI announced he was being charged with her murder.

And on Friday, Duke's name was called again.

Duke, the man accused of killing the Irwin County teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead is expected to be tried this year.

Friday morning, the prosecutors and defense attorneys went before an Irwin County judge.

Tara Grinstead disappeared in 2005. It wasn't until last year the GBI arrested Ryan Duke, charging him with her murder.

Prosecutors said they are ready to bring the case to trial. The public defender said he needs more time.

The two sides agree they plan to have a trial this year.

"We are all seeking the same things, to hurry up and get a closure to the case," said Irwin County Commission Chairman Joey Whitley.

While he said tensions have been high since February, Whitley said Tara Grinstead's murder case has sewed the close-knit community tighter.

"We'd really like to know exactly what did happen, how it happened, that type of thing," explained Whitley. "With the current gag order, there's no street talk we will call it, but as soon as it goes to trial the people in our community will know what happened."

Whitley said it's hard to tell who knows the answers, besides the two men in jail themselves.

Bo Dukes, a longtime friend of Duke, is also a defendant in the Grinstead murder case. He is charged with concealing a death, tampering with evidence and hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal.

While Dukes is out on bond, Ryan Duke remains behind bars, with little contact with the community. And he's dealing with a death himself. His father passed away just two months ago.

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