Breaking News
More () »

Accused Tara Grinstead killer Ryan Duke to appear in court this month

The man accused of killing south Georgia teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead will appear in court later this month for the first time in nearly two years.

Ryan Duke is scheduled to appear in Irwin County court November 19th and 20th for a motions hearing. He's the man accused of killing Tara Grinstead in 2005.

Duke's last scheduled hearing on September 20th was postponed after Duke hired a new defense attorney.

More than a decade after Grinstead vanished from Ocilla, Georgia, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Duke and charged him with her death and six other counts.

The cold case seemed to finally be heating up, as agents made a second arrest just days later. They charged a man named Bo Dukes with helping conceal Grinstead's death.

Over the last 20 months, there have been many twists and turns in the case, including a GBI search for Grinstead's remains in a Ben Hill County pecan farm, and a gag-order imposed by an Irwin County judge.

In August, Ryan Duke's public defender filed 26 new motions for his client. One of which included 'never before seen' GBI case file exhibits that say Duke and Dukes got drunk at a party in 2005 and allegedly confessed to killing and burning Grinstead's body.

The motions also included things like a request to prohibit Duke from being seen in jail clothing or shackles, disqualifying jurors who knew Grinstead, and dismissing the indictment altogether due to what the defense says was possibly an unconstitutional composition of the grand jury.

About two weeks after Ryan Duke's defender filed those motions, we confirmed that he hired a new lawyer, Ashleigh Merchant.

Merchant postponed a September 20th motions hearing to prepare for the case. She sent WMAZ an e-mail Monday morning that says:

"We are finishing our review of the motions previously filed by the public defender's office and plan on pursuing several of those. Plus (we are) filing several additional motions within the next few days."

Merchant says the next step after the motions hearing will be to set a trial date.

Before You Leave, Check This Out