OCILLA, GA (WALB) - The state’s case against the man accused of murdering Tara Grinstead may not be heard in Ocilla, but we do not know at this time where it will be heard, and the judge isn’t conceding the point that it should be moved.
District Attorney Paul Bowden seemed to agree with the defense motion to move the trial out of Irwin County, citing pretrial publicity.
The judge, prosecutors, and defense also discussed when this will go to trial.
The trial will begin Monday, April 1, 2019. This will be a month-long trial, and also includes jury selection.
In a court hearing resumed Monday afternoon, the motion to change the venue for the Ryan Duke trial resurfaced.
Judge Bill Reinhardt says he is glad the prosecutors agreed with the defense to move the trial out of Irwin County, however, he believes there is not enough evidence at this time as to why this should change.
The judge said that he is not willing to grant the motion at this time, and needs more time to hear the motion again. He wants to have a conference call in mid-December. They will go over jury questionnaires, which should include the venue change issue.
Regarding the pending motions, the judge said he expects to publish his rulings for those motions this week.
Duke is represented by Cobb County attorneys Ashleigh and John Merchant.
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing in Ocilla.
They took over his case from the public defender’s office earlier this year.
They argued for a change of venue, saying that there is no way that Duke could get a fair trial in a county that is known nationwide for this high profile missing person’s case.
The defense is presenting 32 separate motions in this hearing, and Judge Bill Reinhardt is presiding.
Monday afternoon, the parties will discuss where the trial should be, and when it should be tried.
Here are the motions being argued Monday, November 26:
Motion 8– to restrict use of the word murder. Defense attorneys are arguing that the language is inappropriate to use prior to jury’s decision. Judge Reinhardt will make this ruling within the next 24-48 hours.
Motion 24-special demurrer - Duke is charged with malice murder (count 1), felony murder (count 2), aggravated assault (count 4) based on his involvement in Tara Grindstead case.
The defense says there is no proof he committed these crimes and the charges listed on the Indictment does not show or describe how he assaulted Grinstead. They say he used his hands, however, failed to describe how he used his hands. This ruling is expected in 24-48 hours).
Motion 29-motion for order appointing investigator to assist the defense/ funds to hire private investigator. Defense says they need this in order to have a fair trial. The ruling is expected in 48 hours.
Motion 32-requesting court not read indictment to jury prior to opening statement. The judge immediately denied this motion.
Motion 33-motion for state to make full and fair opening and closing arguments and restrict final argument rebuttal. The ruling is expected in the next couple of days.
Click HERE for background on this case
Duke was arrested in February 2017 for the murder of Tara Grinstead. Bo Dukes was also arrested and charged with helping Duke dispose of Grinstead’s body.
Both were former students of the Irwin County teacher who went missing in October 2005.