OCILLA — The district attorney in the murder case involving the death of Tara Grinstead does not support a defense motion to change the trial's venue, according to a letter obtained by The Valdosta Daily Times.
The letter, by District Attorney C. Paul Bowden of the Tifton Judicial Circuit, was sent to Superior Court Judge Bill Reinhardt Dec. 19, 2018. A copy of the letter was provided to The Times by the Irwin County court clerk's office.
Grinstead vanished in October 2005. For nearly a dozen years, she was considered missing; the search for the teacher and former beauty queen gained national attention.
In February 2017, Ryan Duke was arrested and charged with Grinstead’s murder, according to past reports in The Valdosta Daily Times. Duke was a student at Irwin County High School, where Grinstead taught.
In Bowden's letter, the district attorney says the state will not join the defense in a motion to change the location of the trial.
"At the Nov. 26, 2018 hearing, I informed the Court I did not see where the pretrial publicity necessitated a change of venue in this case," he said in the letter.
Bowden said he had concerns about jury bias due to a "a large crowd of spectators" at the the initial press conference after Duke's arrest; however, "the courtroom was virtually empty at the last hearing date, save for news agencies and persons directly involved in the case."
Meanwhile, the search continues for another man facing charges in Grinstead's death who is now wanted in Warner Robins on rape charges.
Bo Dukes, 34, is wanted on charges of rape, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with a New Year's Day incident reported along the 300 block of Charleston Way, according to the Warner Robins Police Department Wednesday.
A week after his friend Ryan Duke was arrested, Bo Dukes was charged with helping conceal the body, though he was released from jail after a couple of hours, according to previous news reports.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact Det. Del Giorno, (478) 302-5380 or Macon Regional Crimestoppers, 1-877-68CRIME.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.