Pretrial appeal further slows Georgia missing teacher case


Georgia’s highest court has actually approved a pretrial appeal to a guy charged with the 2005 slaying of a high school teacher whose disappearance remained a mystery for more than a decade


RUSS BYNUM Associated Press

February 14, 2020, 6: 53 PM

3 minutes read

Georgia’s greatest court has approved a pretrial appeal to a guy charged with the 2005 slaying of a high school instructor whose disappearance remained a secret for more than a years.

The Georgia Supreme Court provided an order Thursday saying it will hear Ryan Duke’s appeal for state financing to pay for specialist defense witnesses.

Duke had been set up to stand trial last April for the murder of teacher and appeal queen Tara Grinstead in Irwin County. A continuous dispute over whether the state should pay for parts of Duke’s defense has actually postponed the case for months.

Duke’s lawyers say he has no cash to spend for expert witnesses in DNA, false confessions and psychology. They argue he will not get a reasonable trial without them.

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Tift Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Costs Reinhardt has twice rejected the demand, ruling Duke offered up any claim to state financing when he decreased legal representation from public defenders in favor of personal lawyers who took his case free of charge.

The state Supreme Court stated in the one-page order giving Duke’s appeal that justices are “particularly worried” with the funding issue. The court did not immediately set a date to hear the appeal.

Duke looked for a comparable pretrial appeal in 2015. The Supreme Court declined to hear it, ruling last June it had no authority without the trial judge’s authorization. Reinhardt signed an order Jan. 13 approving his authorization.

Grinstead was 30 in October 2005 when she vanished from her house in Ocilla, about 185 miles (about 300 kilometers) south of Atlanta. A billboard with her photo and a tip line number loomed for many years in the location, and hope stayed that she would be found alive.

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Her death was validated when Duke and another guy were jailed in February 2017.

A Georgia Bureau of Examination representative affirmed at a pretrial hearing that Duke confessed to eliminating Grinstead after burglarizing her home to steal cash for drugs. GBI representatives have actually likewise stated DNA matching both Duke and Grinstead was found on a latex glove found in her yard.

Duke’s lawyers have stated he made a false confession under the impact of drugs. They stated in court filings that Duke was asleep in the house when Grinstead was eliminated.

Duke’s previous buddy and co-defendant, Bo Dukes, was founded guilty in March of helping conceal Grinstead’s death and was sentenced to serve 25 years in jail. He informed authorities he helped Duke burn her body in a rural pecan orchard.

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