Hearing underway as Ryan Duke, Bo Dukes attempt to get Ben Hill County charges dismissed
- Written by Kristen Kitchens
- Published in News
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The defense teams for both Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes are currently fighting to dismiss the charges against the two men in Ben Hill County.
A hearing for Ryan was set soon after new charges came following his conviction and acquittal during his trial last May, with Bo's attorney later filing a motion claiming his previous charges in the county were tolled by the statute of limitations. Less than two weeks after Ryan was acquitted of Tara Grinstead's murder in a two-week trial in May, he was indicted on six additional charges. According to a copy of the indictment, a Ben Hill County grand jury indicted him with one count of concealing the death of another, hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal, two counts of concealment of facts, and two counts of tampering with evidence.
The charges stem from Ryan's confession during his trial in Irwin County, where he admitted to concealing Grinstead's body and allowing Bo Dukes, the man he testified was responsible for Grinstead's death. The indictment also alleged that the crime was unknown until February 19, 2017, which is something Ashleigh Merchant, Ryan’s attorney, told DouglasNow in August was incorrect. During Ryan's trial last year, a GBI agent testified that a report had been made in 2005, along with numerous other reports mentioning both Ryan and Bo, but that they were "overlooked" due to the "overwhelming response" they were receiving at the time.
The motion being heard today argues that the indictment was time-barred due to the agencies all being "aware of these repeated and earlier reports beginning in 2005, but utterly failing to act upon them in any way." The motion mentions specific dates prior to Ryan's arrest in 2017, when GBI agents and local law enforcement were reportedly given information regarding Ryan and Bo's alleged involvement in the case. According to Merchant, reports were made in 2007, 2008, 2016, and 2017.
During Ryan's trial, State Attorney J.D. Hart also commented that he could not be charged in Ben Hill County due to the statute of limitations (SOL). However, in this most recent hearing, a GBI agent testified that after the trial, prosecutors had presumed the SOL had run but then had an "organic revelation" that Ryan could still be charged. In the motion, Merchant argued, "This is because the State has willfully and maliciously decided to ignore all these facts to secure an indictment of Ryan Duke in Ben Hill only two weeks after he was found not guilty of murdering, assaulting, or burglarizing Ms. Grinstead. The State ignored these inconvenient facts in its indictment because they demonstrate, unequivocally, that the latest charges against Ryan Duke here are time-barred under the applicable four-year statute of limitations."
Other motions will also be heard today, including the dismissal of charges against Bo Dukes in the case and to recuse the current district attorney. So far, the state has called two GBI agents to the stand, with more witnesses expected to testify on the defense's behalf. Ryan was sentenced to the maximum penalty of ten years with credit for time served. He is currently incarcerated at Johnson State Prison, with an expected release date of February 2027. However, if the newest charges in Ben Hill County are not dismissed, Ryan will be facing additional time if convicted on those charges.
Bo is currently serving his sentence in Central State Prison, with a maximum release date of March 2044. However, Bo is also facing numerous charges in separate cases, including aggravated sodomy (2x), kidnapping (2x), assault with a deadly weapon (2x), possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (4x), and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is also still facing 25 years if charges connected to the death of Grinstead are not dismissed in Ben Hill County. However, if the charges are dismissed, Bo will still spend the remainder of his life behind bars if convicted on his other charges.
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