ATLANTA — Editor's Note: The video in this story is from when the case went before the Georgia Supreme Court.
The Georgia Supreme Court issued a decision Monday in the Tara Grinstead case reversing part of a ruling that would have kept her accused killer from using state funds to prepare for trial.
The issue was whether the state should pay for expert witnesses and investigators to help assemble Ryan Duke’s defense.
An Irwin County judge previously said ‘no’ because Duke was represented by private defense lawyers – who took his case for free – instead of using court-appointed public defenders.
The decision released Monday says the trial court erred in saying an indigent defendant in a criminal case presented by private, pro bono counsel doesn’t have a statutory right or constitutional right to state-funded experts needed to prepare a defense.
It essentially paves the way for Duke to get money for additional defense resources through a contract between his counsel and the Georgia Public Defender Council or circuit public defender.
Tara Grinstead, an Irwin County High School teacher, went missing in October 2005.
Four years ago, the GBI charged Duke with killing her and hiding her body in a pecan orchard. No trial date is set.