A judge convicted Ryan Alexander Duke36, sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday for concealing the death of the 30-year-old teacher and beauty queen Tara Faye Grinstead. Duke is eligible for parole for time already served since his arrest in 2017.
Duke is the second man to be punished for hiding Grinstead’s body by burning it after prosecutors hoped to convict him when the killer collapsed. His friend Bo dukes (no relationship) was never charged with manslaughter. In other words, no one will be tried as a murderer.
“They can’t find Tara.” Sister Anita Grinstead Gattis told the court Monday about a fateful phone call the family received in October 2005. “Four words. “They can’t find Tara.” Four little words.”
Those words changed her life forever.
“There is no fitting punishment for what Mr. Duke took from us,” Tara’s childhood friend Miriam Seeley told the court. “The purely evil deeds you have committed cannot be undone or forgotten. You took from this world one of the smartest souls that ever walked the earth.” She called Grinstead “one of the sweetest and most loving people that ever walked this planet.”
According to prosecutors’ theory, sometime on October 22 or 23, 2005, Ryan Duke broke into Tara’s home and killed her when she found him. Duke enlisted the help of longtime friend, roommate and former schoolmate Bo Dukes to cremate the body and keep Grinstead’s death a secret for years, prosecutors said.
“October 2005 was one of the most painful journeys a family could ever experience,” said Tara’s stepmother Connie Grinstead said in court on Monday. “There are words that are burned into our memories forever. Absence. Disappeared. Disappeared. And murdered. For over 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, vacillating between hope and sorrow.
“Little kids in our family were scared to even go out and play because they thought if someone took Tara, they might take her, too,” she said.
Ryan and Bo were arrested in 2017. Ryan confessed during the investigation, saying he was in fact Tara’s killer, but he recanted that confession, saying it was coerced. He then claimed that Bo committed the murder and recruited him to help burn the body. Ryan claimed during 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 previously served several years in federal prison for stealing over $150,000 worth of property from the US Army. She suggested that during this time he could have come forward with the truth.
Bo Duke is serving a 25-year sentence as an accomplice in Tara’s death. He asserted his Fifth Amendment rights when Ryan Duke’s defense called him to the witness stand.
The jury, in turn, ruled that prosecutors could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ryan Duke murdered Tara and broke into her home. They only convicted him of concealing someone else’s death.
Judge Bill Reinhardt imposed the maximum penalty. He emphasized the pain Tara’s family felt at not being able to find her for all these years. The stepmother expressed some of that pain.
“Tara’s voice was forever silenced when she was murdered, so we are here today to be her voice, and we humbly and respectfully ask this court to give him the maximum sentence,” Connie said. “Even that would be less time than we spent looking for her.”
Reinhardt acknowledged that Ryan appeared remorseful when he testified.
Anita dismissed any suggestion that Duke was acting in good faith. He confessed because he was caught, she said.
“Edmund Burke said, ‘There is no security for honest men save to believe all evil from evil men. Bad men don’t always growl. Some smile charmingly. Those are the most dangerous. “Ryan Duke is so evil,” she said.
Ryan is an introvert and Bo is an extrovert, she said.
“Ryan is sneakily dangerous,” she continued. “Bo, more open about the danger he poses. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes.”
Connie said Ryan Duke’s 2017 confession seemed genuine, sincere, and apparently remorseful. But the testimony on the stand seemed practiced, well rehearsed, and self-serving, she said.
“It was amazing to see how crystal clear his memory became after spending some time in prison,” she said.
They weren’t hateful, vengeful people and don’t believe in hating anyone, but they will always hate what this defendant did to Tara and everyone she loved, she said.
“We do not want the defendant to walk out of this courtroom today believing that anything he has ever said or done regarding Tara from 2005 to date has ever helped us or in any way brought us peace, and never has,” he said you. “Whether he spent his days in a building with bars on the doors or walked the streets as a free man, we know he will never be free from what he has done. We pray that he will seek and find God’s forgiveness. His actions have given us a life sentence. One of great loss and sorrow.”
[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]
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https://lawandcrime.com/live-trials/live-trials-archived/beauty-queen-tara-grinstead-murder-case/ryan-duke-sentenced-to-10-years-in-prison-for-concealing-beauty-queen-tara-grinsteads-death/ Ryan Duke is sentenced to 10 years in the Tara Grinstead case