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Trial set in 2005 Grinstead murder

More than 16 years after a popular high school teacher vanished from her rural Georgia home, a man is set to stand trial for her murder. An Irwin County judge has set Monday as the start date for opening arguments in the trial.

30-year-old Tara Grinstead, a history teacher and former beauty queen, disappeared after she left an evening cookout in October, 2005. Questions about what happened to her lingered as an unsolved mystery for more than a decade. In 2017, Ryan Duke told investigators that he killed Grinstead after breaking into her home near Ocilla to steal drugs. Defense attorneys argue that Duke made a false confession under the influence of drugs. A second person with a similar name, Bo Dukes, was convicted in 2019 for helping move and burn Grinstead’s body. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The AP reports that the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as court battles surrounding funding for Duke’s legal defense delayed the trial's start.