OCILLA, Ga. (AP) — A jury has found a man accused of killing a popular high school teacher who vanished from her rural Georgia hometown in 2005 not guilty of murder.

Ryan Duke had told investigators he killed Tara Grinstead and helped burn her body.

But when he took the witness stand during his trial, he insisted he was innocent.

Duke testified that he never harmed Tara Grinstead and wasn’t at her home when she was killed.

Duke’s testimony contradicts the confession recorded by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents in 2017. Jurors previously saw the video in which Duke said he broke into Grinstead’s home to steal money for drugs and fatally struck her when she came up behind him.

FILE – Ryan Alexander Duke appears during motion hearings before Chief Judge of the Tifton Circuit Bill Reinhardt at Irwin County Courthouse in Ocilla, Ga., on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. Duke, charged with murdering 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. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Duke said the real killer was his friend Bo Dukes, who was convicted in 2019 of helping burn Grinstead’s body.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the jury acquitted Duke of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and burglary but found him guilty of concealing a death.