Man imprisoned in Tara Grinstead death pleads guilty to unrelated rapes

Posted at 4:14 PM, December 19, 2023

PERRY, Ga. (AP) — A man imprisoned for concealing the death of Georgia teacher Tara Grinstead has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in two unrelated rape cases in a deal that lets him avoid additional prison time.

Bo Dukes booking photo

Bo Dukes pleaded guilty to reduced charges in two rape cases. (Georgia Department of Corrections)

Houston County Superior Court records show that Bo Dukes agreed to plea deals Nov. 13 to settle charges that he had raped women in 2017 and 2019 after threatening them with weapons. Prosecutors agreed to let Dukes plead guilty to aggravated assault with intent to rape in both cases. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, while more than a dozen other counts were dismissed.

The sentences Dukes, 39, received won’t add to the 25-year prison term he is currently serving for his role in Grinstead’s death and disappearance, The plea deal was first reported by WALB-TV.

A high school teacher and former beauty queen, Grinstead vanished in 2005 from her home in rural Irwin County. Her fate remained a mystery for more than a decade until Dukes’ friend with a similar last name, Ryan Duke, told Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents that he strangled Grinstead and enlisted Dukes to help burn her body.

READ MORE: Live Trial Updates: GA v. Ryan Duke

A jury convicted Dukes of concealing Grinstead’s death in 2019. After recanting his confession, Duke was convicted of the same charge in 2022, but acquitted of murder. Additional charges related to Grinstead’s death are still pending in a neighboring county where the men burned her body in a pecan orchard.

FILE – An image of Tara Grinstead is displayed on a billboard in Ocilla, Ga. Ryan Duke, charged with murdering Grinstead, a popular high school teacher who vanished in 2005, went on trial Monday, May 9, 2022, with prosecutors and defense attorneys clashing over whether the jury should believe the defendant’s confession to investigators. (AP Photo/Elliott Minor, File)

Dukes was also indicted in 2019 in two rape cases with no connection to Grinstead’s death and disappearance.

He was charged with raping a woman while threatening her with a knife on Jan. 19, 2017, just a few weeks before his arrest in the Grinstead case. Dukes was indicted for a second rape after two women accused him of sexually assaulting them at gunpoint on Jan. 1, 2019. Dukes was free on bond at the time, awaiting trial for hiding Grinstead’s death.

A judge last month sentenced Dukes to 10 years in prison for each reduced rape count, plus five years for illegally possessing a gun. According to court records, the plea deal allows the time Dukes serves for Grinstead’s death to also count toward those new sentences.

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