Bo Dukes was arrested in February 2017. (Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office/WMAZ via AP, File)
A Georgia jury on Thursday convicted a man accused of helping to conceal the 2005 murder of a high school teacher and one-time beauty queen and lying to law enforcement about her death.
Bo Dukes, 34, was convicted on two counts of making a false statement, one count of hindering the apprehension of a criminal, and one count of concealing the death of another. He is due to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Friday and faces up to 25 years in prison.
Dukes is the first of the two suspects to stand trial in the death of Tara Grinstead, who was last alive seen in October 2005. Her fate was a mystery in her hometown of Ocilla, about 90 miles southeast of Macon, until Dukes and his best friend, Ryan, Duke, were arrested in February 2017.
Prosecutors said Dukes in 2006 declared an old Army buddy, John McCullough, whom he helped to dispose of Grinstead the body, but lied to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who interviewed him about the case ten years later, in 2016.
FILE – Tara Grinstead was last alive seen in October 2005. (AP Photo/Elliott Minor, File)
John Fox, Dukes ‘ lawyer, said during closing arguments that the prosecutors had not proven that the Dukes intentionally lied to the GBI agent.
“Dukes told the GBI that he did not recall a conversation with John McCullough,” Fox said. “He didn’t tell them he had not a conversation with John McCullough.”
He added: “Considering the fact how he was drunk, based on McCullough’s own testimony, is that unreasonable?”
After he a few months later, Dukes, said Duke had broken out in Grinstead at home and strangled in her bed, then a pick-up truck which he had borrowed from the grand Dukes to move her body to a pecan orchard, the property of the Dukes’ uncle.
Ryan Alexander Duke will be tried in Tara Grinstead murder the following month. (Georgia Bureau of Investigation via AP)
Dukes said his friend took him to Grinstead the body and together they moved deeper into the woods, a campfire built on top of the corpse and burned it for two days.
Wilcox District Attorney Brad Rigby said Duke and Dukes fire on the remains of a woman who had “a smile that won beauty pageants”, and ensured that they were “reduced to bits of skull, vertebrae, and teeth.” He added that Dukes had inflicted “pain” on the missing woman’s family if he lied to the authorities in 2016.
“He had the opportunity to take the right decision and to tell the truth, but he went in a different direction and he abused his honor, and he abused trust,” Rigby said.
Dukes not to testify in his own defense and his legal team, there were no witnesses.
Ryan Duke is in charge of the Grinstead the murder and is scheduled to stand trial in the nearby Irwin County, Ga. beginning April 1. Dukes is also scheduled to face trial on the charges in connection with the burning of Grinstead the body in a neighboring province.
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GBI agent Jason Shoudel testified during a pro forma session Duke confesses to killing Grinstead and burn on her body. He said DNA from both Duke and Grinstead was found on a latex glove recovered outside her home.
But Duke’s defense attorneys say Duke gave a false confession while he was under the influence of drugs. They have said in court documents that Duke was at home asleep the night Grinstead was killed.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.