Georgia man Ryan Duke has been cleared of Tara Grinstead’s murder

According to local reports, a Georgia man who confessed to the murder of a former beauty queen was found not guilty to the killing on Friday.

Although Ryan Duke told local police within 90 seconds of entering the station in 2017 that he had killed high school teacher Tara Grinstead in 2005, an Irwin County jury acquitted him on Friday, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution .

Instead, he was found guilty of covering up her death and sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday, the newspaper reported.

Duke said on the witness stand that he faked the confession because he was under the influence of drugs and afraid of his friend Bo Dukes (no relative), who he claimed was Grinstead’s real killer, the AJC reported.

Duke was arrested shortly after his arrest in 2017 for involvement in the case.

Duke said during his 2017 confession that he broke into Grinstead’s home for drug money, and when she caught him, he hit her. Authorities also said he knew details of the crime that were not previously released.

Tara Grinstead
In his 2017 confession, Ryan Duke claimed that he broke into Tara Grinstead’s home for drug money and that she caught him, prompting him to hit her.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation

“I don’t feel like I deserve to be able to breathe freely,” Duke wrote in his 2017 confession, which was published on the Law and Crime website. “I cannot begin to understand the pain I have caused her family and loved ones.”

On the witness stand, Duke claimed Dukes told him he killed Grinstead in October 2005. Dukes admitted to helping cremate the body, the AJC reported.

Because her body was badly burned, only bone and tooth fragments were found, but not enough to collect DNA, the AJC reported.

Tara Grinstead
Tara Grinstead’s sister says 10 years in prison isn’t enough for Ryan Duke.

“Tara lost her life,” said Connie Grinstead, Grinstead’s stepmother, according to the AJC. “And that left a hole in our lives that can never be filled. We will feel the pain of this loss as long as we live.”

Duke, who has already served five years in prison, could face up to 10 years in connection with the woman’s death.

Anita Gattis, Grinstead’s sister, said ten years in prison wasn’t enough for Duke.

“16 years. 6 months and 27 days,” Gattis told the court, that’s how long Grinstead has been gone, according to TV station WMAZ. “He can serve a maximum of 10 years to cover up someone else’s death. That’s just seven years less than the sentence which I and the rest of Tara’s family and friends have learned about his heinous and vicious act.” Georgia man Ryan Duke has been cleared of Tara Grinstead’s murder


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