ATLANTA — Defense attorneys for Ryan Duke have filed their response to a series of new charges in the Tara Grinstead case accusing the state of revenge prosecution.
The motion filed by the Atlanta-area based defense team this week argues that Duke can’t legally be charged again in connection with the Grinstead case.
Prosecutors disagree and called a special grand jury to file additional charges. Now it’s up to a judge to decide who’s right.
Cobb-based lawyer Ashleigh Merchant is one of attorneys for Duke. She authored this motion for dismissal against the latest charges.
“I think the timing is interesting and the timing speaks for itself,” Merchant told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas.
Earlier this week, Duke was indicted on six counts for concealing Grinstead’s death, hindering apprehension, tampering and lying in Ben Hill County.
A South Georgia jury found Duke not guilty in the murder of the beauty queen and teacher last month in Irwin County.
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Merchant said it’s too late for prosecutors to file these charges and the law requires them to do so within four years of prosecutors knowing about the crime or those involved.
“I think this is a very clear issue,” Merchant said.
Prosecutors haven’t returned Thomas’ emails for comment, but in the indictment put the date of when the statute of limitations started as Feb. 19, 2017.
That’s the same day defendant Bo Dukes spoke with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Duke’s defense team is making public several internal investigative reports it says shows authorities were told about the two years before their arrests -- as early as Nov. 8, 2005--- as volunteers were still searching for Grinstead.
“There were reports in 2005 when they searched (the) orchard. There were reports in 2006, in 2008, in 2016, in reports in early 2017,” Merchant said.
Prosecutors argue that because statute of limitations were halted or tolled during the pandemic, they still had just enough time to file these new charges.
A judge will likely set a hearing sometime this summer on the new charges and if they should be dismissed.
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