Ryan Duke Murder Trial: Law enforcement ties to case

OCILLA, Ga. – In Day 2 of this highly anticipated trial that has now opened after more than 16 years since Irwin County teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead’s death; the witness questioned Tuesday were (GBI) law enforcement officials from the Ocilla Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation  who were working the case back in 2005.

“I, at first walked through the residence just to see if anything stuck out to me, access the scene that was there.” said Detective Bill Barr with the Ocilla Police Department.

On Monday we heard from Tara’s family, friends, and love, but testimony in day two is more focused on inner workings of law enforcement and crime scene evidence.

“So when we’re talking about you didn’t see any forced entry, when you say that word “forced entry” what are we talking about?” a state prosecutor asked. “Busted door jams, dig marks, scratches…” said Barr.

“…you would see a like door that was kicked in or a lot of grouped force that was used, you would see damage to the door, to the door frame…” said Agent Jeff Roesler Special agent and crime scene specialist with the GBI.

Both Detective Bill Barr and Agent Roesler were on the scene Monday, October 24, 2005 when Grinstead was reported missing, searching her residence then to determine whether a crime happened.

Both concur there were no signs of forced entry into the victim’s house.

“And what is state’s exhibit 71?” the state prosecutor asked. “It is a property evidence sheet listing the glove.” Barr replied.

One of the key pieces of evidence in this trial is the latex glove found in front of Grinstead’s home. The State says the glove contains DNA of 2 people, Tara Grinstead, and Ryan Duke.

The defense argues there’s an additional DNA on that glove.

Attorney’s questioned Barr about the glove, reportedly found 15 feet away from Grinstead’s front porch. Defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant says other wise, citing a police report about the glove location.

“Your police report says that it was directly in front of the front door steps. Do you remember that?” asked Merchant. “I do.” Barr replied.

“Would you think that your memory was better back then closer in time to the event?” Merchant asked. “Probably so.” said Barr.

“So if you’re report indicates that it was directly in front of the front door steps, would that be the most accurate?” Merchant asked. “It would be.” Barr said.

Another key piece of evidence is Tara’s answering machine which has a pay phone number in the caller ID log.

In opening statements on Monday the state explained that after Ryan killed Tara he used a pay phone to call the house to check on her.

Messages from Tar’s answering machine played throughout the courtroom this afternoon which included messages from her mom, a co-worker, and a former student.