Accused killer of Georgian beauty queen Tara Grinstead on trial 17 years after she disappeared
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The trial of the man accused of murdering a missing small-town Georgia teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead nearly 17 years ago will begin on Monday.
After a five-year wait, Ryan Duke will stand trial for malicious murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealment of body. Jury selection will begin Monday at the Irwin County Courthouse in Ocilla, Georgia. The process should take about a week and a half.
The trial itself is expected to last a month or more, judging by the amount of evidence and testimony the prosecution and defense are expected to present.
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If convicted, Duke, 36, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In what is considered the largest case in the history of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Grinstead, 30, was reported missing from the rural town of Oscilla in October 2005 after failing to report for work on a Monday morning at Irwin County High School. , where she taught eleventh grade. A former Miss Georgia contestant, she had helped train young women for a local pageant and attended a barbecue with friends over the weekend. She was continuing her doctoral studies the night before she disappeared.
Fox 5 Atlanta reported that deputies found no signs of a struggle or forced entry when they came to perform a wellness check at the home where Grinstead lived alone. Her car was in the driveway and her door was locked with her dog, cat and cell phone still plugged into charging inside.
Court documents allege Duke entered through a window to rob the house. Once inside, prosecutors say he climbed into bed with Grinstead and strangled her to death before asking former high school classmate Bo Dukes to lend him his truck for the ride. help move the body.
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Dukes, who is not related to Duke, was sentenced in 2019 to 25 years in prison for his role in covering up the murder. In court, prosecutors released a video of his confession in which he admitted to helping Duke burn the body until “it looked like ash.” Small burnt bone fragments were found in a field in 2017. Grinstead was pronounced dead in absentia in December 2010.
The case has received new public attention in recent years thanks to the Up and Vanished podcast.