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Tara Grinstead murder case due back in court Friday

The hearing is likely to revolve around whether the state can pay for private investigators for Ryan Duke’s defense.

IRWIN COUNTY, Ga. — The case of Ryan Duke, the man accused of killing Tara Grinstead nearly 14 years ago, is due back in court Friday.

Two years ago, Duke was charged with murdering the Irwin County High teacher and beauty queen.

The case was unsolved for more than a decade before the GBI accused Duke of killing Grinstead and burning her body in a pecan orchard.

But before Judge William Reinhardt sets a new trial date, Duke's lawyers are asking him to settle a long-running dispute.

Duke's lawyers want the state to pay for investigators to help them prepare for trial. His lawyers argue that the lack of investigators threatens Duke's right to a fair trial.

But Reinhardt has ruled that Duke gave up that right when he hired private defense lawyers instead of court-appointed public defenders.

Duke's lawyers want to appeal that ruling, but Reinhardt said they can't.

In June, Georgia's Supreme Court agreed with the judge -- Duke can't appeal the judge's pre-trial ruling unless he agrees to let them.

Now, prosecutors and Duke's team are due back in court Friday and will likely discuss the funding appeal again.

Reinhardt could agree to grant the funding request.

Or he could agree to let the defense team appeal his ruling.

Or he could deny both requests and set a new trial date.

Friday's hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Irwin County Court.

A second Irwin County man, Bo Dukes, still faces charges of helping Ryan Duke burn and hide Grinstead's body.

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