A condemned judge Ryan Alexander Duke36, Monday to 10 years in prison for having concealed the death of a teacher and beauty queen of 30 years Tara Faye Grinstead. Duke is eligible for parole due to time already served since his 2017 arrest.
Duke is the second man punished for hiding Grinstead’s body by burning it, after prosecutors hoped to convict him as the killer collapsed. His friend Bo Dukes (no relation) was never charged with homicide. In other words, no one will face justice as a murderer.
“”They can’t find Tara””, sister Anita Grinstead Gattis told the court on Monday of a fateful phone call the family received in October 2005. “Four words. “They can’t find Tara.” Four little words.
Those words changed their lives forever.
“There’s no appropriate punishment for what Mr. Duke took from us,” Tara’s childhood friend Miriam Seeley said in court. “The pure evil acts you have committed cannot be undone or forgotten. You have removed from this world one of the brightest souls that has ever walked the face of the earth. She called Grinstead “one of the people sweetest and most loving to ever exist on this planet”.
According to the prosecution’s theory on the case, Ryan Duke robbed Tara’s house sometime on October 22 or 23, 2005, and he killed her when she found him. Duke enlisted the help of longtime friend, roommate and former classmate Bo Dukes to burn the body and keep Grinstead’s death a secret for years, prosecutors said.
“October 2005 was one of the most painful journeys any family could face,” Tara’s mother-in-law said. Connie Grinstead said in court on Monday. “There are words that are forever etched in our memories. Faded away. Faded away. Faded away. And murdered. For more than 11 years, we went to bed every night wondering where Tara was, and we woke up every morning with the same question. Where is she?”
They wondered if she was alive or dead, oscillating between hope and grief.
“The young kids in our family were even scared to go out and play because they thought if someone took Tara they might take them too,” she said.
Ryan and Bo were arrested in 2017. Ryan confessed during the investigation, saying he was indeed Tara’s killer, but backed out of that confession, saying it was coerced. He then claimed that Bo committed the murder and recruited him to help burn the body. Ryan argued in his testimony at his trial that he kept it a secret all these years because he was afraid of Bo. He said he confessed because Bo would never tell the truth.
Anita dismissed Ryan’s alleged fear, pointing out that Bo had already spent several years in federal prison for stealing more than $150,000 worth of assets from the US military. She suggested that he could have moved on with the truth during this time.
Bo Duke is serving a 25-year sentence as an accomplice to Tara’s death. He asserted his Fifth Amendment rights when Ryan Duke’s defense called him to the stand.
For their part, jurors determined that prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ryan Duke murdered Tara and robbed her home. They only convicted him of one count of concealing the death of another.
Judge Bill Reinhardt handed down the maximum sentence. He highlighted the pain Tara’s family felt at not being able to find her over the years. The mother-in-law expressed some of this pain.
“Tara’s voice was silenced forever when she was murdered, so we are here today to be her voice, and we humbly and respectfully ask this court to give her the maximum sentence,” said Connie. “Even that would take less time than we spent looking for her.”
Reinhardt acknowledged that Ryan appeared remorseful during his testimony.
Anita dismissed any suggestion that Duke was acting in good faith. He confessed because he got caught, she said.
“Edmund Burke said, ‘There is no safety for honest men except to believe all the evil of evil men. The wicked do not always grumble. Some smile charmingly. They are the most dangerous. Ryan Duke is this kind of bad,” she said.
Ryan is an introvert and Bo an extrovert, she said.
“Ryan is sneakily dangerous,” she continued. “Bo, more open about the danger he releases. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes.
Connie said Ryan Duke’s confession in 2017 seemed genuine, heartfelt and seemingly remorseful. But the testimony on the witness stand seemed driven, well-rehearsed and self-serving, she said.
“It was amazing how clear his memory became after spending some time in jail,” she said.
They weren’t mean, vindictive people, and don’t believe in hating anyone, but they will always hate what this defendant did to Tara and everyone who loved her, he said. she stated.
“We do not want the defendant to leave this courtroom today believing that everything he has said or done about Tara from 2005 to the present has been of any use or benefit to us. peace, and he never will,” she said. “Whether he’s spent his days in a building with bars on the doors or he’s walking around a free man, we know he won’t be. never released from what he did. We pray that he will seek and find God’s forgiveness. His actions landed us a life sentence. A great loss and sadness.
[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]