A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in the case of alleged murderer Ryan Alexander Duke. Court is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.
His attorneys, who represent him pro bono, are asking the Georgia Supreme Court overturn a trial court ruling denying them state funds for pay for an investigator and experts in the defense. Duke had been represented by a public defender until attorneys Ashleigh and John Merchant stepped in. The issue at play is whether Duke could still get public funding even if he’s just represented on a pro bono basis, not by a public defender, according to a Georgia Supreme Court review of the case. This question stalled his trial, which was scheduled to begin last April 1.
The trial court ruled that while Duke had a constitutional right to choose to have a private, pro bono counsel, he doesn’t have the right to also have state funding for experts and investigators at the same time.
Duke is charged as the killer of his former teacher Tara Grinstead. His former classmate Bo Dukes (no relation) was found guilty in March for helping hide the body.
“My actions were cowardly, callous, and cruel,” Dukes said at his sentencing hearing. He said he acted in self-pity and self-preservation rather than in doing the right thing for Grinstead. The defendant voiced an apology to her family and those wrongly suspected in the crime. The judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
Duke’s lawyers are expected to argue in Tuesday’s hearing that under the case Waldrip v. Head, they can ask sidestep the normal the statutory requirements for appeal and ask state Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter of the defense’s funding. The state will ask that the court overrule Waldrip.
[Screengrab via 13WMAZ]