FITZGERALD, Ga. — Ryan Duke, the man acquitted of killing Irwin County teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead, is now facing new charges in Ben Hill County.
According to an indictment released Friday, the charges include concealing the death of another, hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal, two counts of concealment of facts, and two counts of tampering with evidence.
The indictment alleges Duke hid Grinstead’s death off Bowen’s Mill Highway, withheld knowledge of her murder, withheld knowledge of where her body was located, and destroyed evidence with the intent to obstruct the arrest of Bo Dukes.
The new charges against Duke are the latest in a saga spanning nearly 17 years.
Just last month, he was acquitted in Irwin County on the most severe charge in the case – Grinstead's murder – and found guilty on a single charge of concealing the death of another.
The prosecution told jurors Ryan Duke was Grinstead's sole killer, while the defense heavily implied Bo Dukes was the real killer -- not Duke -- and that Duke's recorded confession to GBI agents was coerced under the influence of drugs.
Judge Bill Reinhardt ultimately sentenced Duke to 10 years, on top of the five he already served in jail.
Anita Gattis, Tara Grinstead’s sister, said this in response to the indictment:
“We are very thankful for the true Bill return by the Ben Hill County grand jury today. We feel very deeply that Ryan Duke got away with murder, so this is a small vindication for Tara. One of the very few positives of Covid-19 is the extension of statue of limitations when the court systems were shut down for over 18 months. We know this will be another long road as we've seen with Ryan's trial last month and Bo Dukes trial later this month," she said.
Duke’s new charges are not dissimilar to those of Bo Dukes, who was previously convicted in Wilcox County and is set to stand trial on charges in Ben Hill in late June.
The 2019 trial in Wilcox County focused mainly on Dukes' June 2016 interview with the GBI. That interview happened in Wilcox County, which is why he faced certain charges there.
Bo Dukes was ultimately found guilty of lying to the GBI, hindering the arrest of Ryan Duke, and further concealing the death of Tara Grinstead.
A judge sentenced him to the maximum penalty of 25 years, which he's serving now.
The maximum penalty Dukes could face in his upcoming trial in Ben Hill County is also 25 years, according to DA Brad Rigby. His charges there are concealing the death of another, tampering with evidence, and hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal.
For complete coverage of the Grinstead case through the years, click here.