ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The Georgia Supreme Court granted a delay Thursday in next week’s scheduled trial of the man accused of the 2005 murder of a South Georgia teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead.
Attorneys for Ryan Duke asked for the delay, only days before jury selection was set to begin in an Irwin County Courtroom next Monday.
Duke’s attorney asked for the delay as well as money from the state to pay for defense experts. Dukes’ attorneys stated his constitutional rights will be violated if he is not provided funding for expert witnesses prior to trial.
The Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments on the defense request for Tuesday, May 7th.
Authorities arrested Ryan Duke in February 2017, more than a decade after Grinstead disappeared from her Oscilla home. Investigators said Duke used a credit card to break into her home, strangled the beauty pageant winner, and then asked his friend Bo Dukes to help cover up the crime.
Prosecutors said the two did just that by burning the 30-year-old's body in the Dukes’ family pecan orchard over the course of several days.
Duke's case is being handled by three private pro-bono attorneys who argue the murder suspect is legally defined as an indigent person and therefore qualifies for the state funding exclusively afforded to public defenders.
Last Thursday, a Wilcox County jury convicted Bo Dukes for his role in covering up the murder. The following day, Judge Robert Chasteen sentenced Dukes to the maximum 25 years in prison.
During sentencing, Bo Dukes told the Grinstead family he “failed Tara” and “failed her family.”
“I pray for your forgiveness,” Dukes said.
After the sentencing, Tara's Grinstead's sister told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner she was not moved by Dukes’ tears and said if he felt any remorse, he would've confessed years ago.
Ryan Duke is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary, and concealing a death.