Breaking News
More () »

Defense attorneys for Tara Grinstead's accused killer ask for state funds again

The issue of if the state should pay for expert witnesses and investigators to prepare him for trial came back up in court Tuesday

ATLANTA — Attorneys for Ryan Duke, the man accused of killing Tara Grinstead more than 15 years ago, went back before the Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday morning.

The issue? If the state should pay for expert witnesses and investigators to help him prepare for trial.

An Irwin County judge said no because Duke hired private defense lawyers – who are representing him for free – instead of using court-appointed public defenders.

Prosecutors argue that makes him ineligible for state help. His lawyers say previous court rulings support Duke’s argument, but justices questioned whether those cases apply.

They were quick to point out to Duke’s lawyers that they can’t instruct the court to rule on a matter that may be up to the state legislature.

“And what effect the court's denial of Mr. Duke's assertion here will have on the state of Georgia. Obviously, pro bono work,” said John Merchant, one of Duke’s defense attorneys.

“I can tell you for myself Mr. Merchant, you can argue policy up and down, but it's not going to change how I view a statute of the Constitution, so you might want to focus your arguments on the law,” said Justice David Nahmias.

“Absent a constitutional basis or a statutory basis, to tell the state they have to do something that's good policy - that does appear to be an argument directed more toward the legislature,” said Justice Nels Peterson.

The court did not issue a ruling on the question Tuesday. It will be at least the third time that the state’s highest court has heard arguments on Duke’s case. No trial date has been set.


Tara Grinstead case: Who is Ryan Duke?

Bo Dukes indicted on new rape charges in Houston County

Before You Leave, Check This Out