Accused murderer Ryan Duke loses Georgia Supreme Court case

Ryan Duke in court (Source: WALB)
Ryan Duke in court (Source: WALB)(WCTV)
Published: Jun. 11, 2019 at 10:12 PM EDT
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June 11, 2019

ALBANY, Ga (WALB).--- Attorneys say the fate of Ryan Duke is up in the air after losing his case in the state's highest court.

It's been two years since Ryan Duke was charged with the death of Irwin County teacher and beauty queen, Tara Grinstead.

But his case in court is still up in the air.

"We can't try the case without experts. I mean there's only so much that lawyers can do," says Ashleigh Merchant, one of Duke's private attorneys.

Merchant says even though Georgia's Supreme Court dismissed an appeal application for a funding decision made by the Irwin County Court, she and the other attorneys will continue to fight for Duke's constitutional rights.

"Me being able to work for free is one thing. But there are things that I just can not do legally without some assistance,"says Merchant.

Arguing they will keep trying in hopes funds will be given to hire expert witnesses in this case.

"We're hopeful that it will go back up to the Supreme Court on a certification from the trial court. So that's our hope and that's our next step," says Merchant.

First, prosecutors say a certificate of Immediate Review will have to be signed by trial court Judge Bill Reinhardt before Supreme Court justices can hear the issue again.

Whether this will happen, is up in the air. Prosecutors say Judge Reinhardt can only sign the certificate after jurisdiction is back in the lower courts' hands.

But if he chooses not to, Duke and his pro bono attorneys could be back in court sooner than they thought.

"We could go to trial the next day. It'll be put back on the trial calendar," says Merchant.

Now prosecutors say they are waiting on a remittitur, also known as a transfer of jurisdiction to be issued from the Supreme Court.

Attorneys say this process could take up to two weeks before the power is fully back in Irwin County.

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