Trial set for Luling man accused of ‘brutal murder’

A trial date has been scheduled in May for Jerel Smith, the Luling man accused of shooting a Metairie man four times in the head for $80 cash in January.

The trial is set to begin May 7.

Smith, 31, of 1034 Luling Estates Drive, is charged with second-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the death of Ryan Dubuc. Police believe Dubuc was giving Smith a ride in his truck and that Smith killed him shortly after the two left Birdie’s gas station in Luling on Jan. 9.

Dubuc was 28 years old. Shortly before his death, he withdrew $80 from an ATM at Birdie’s. He was then approached by Smith. Detectives do not believe the two knew each other. However, Smith got into Dubuc’s truck and they left together, but it is unknown if Dubuc allowed Smith into his truck willingly.

Dubuc’s body was found lying along an access road off La. Highway 3160 in Hahnville at 9:45 a.m. Plant workers discovered his body near a wastewater treatment plant. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said Dubuc was “robbed and brutally murdered for as little as $80.” The Sheriff’s Office mobilized an intense investigation that led to Smith’s arrest Jan. 11. Champagne said a S.W.A.T. team arrested Smith at his mother’s residence.

According to Champagne, “a great deal of blood” was found in Dubuc’s truck. Champagne also said surveillance video showed Smith was a frequent visitor of that Birdie’s store in Luling.

Detectives believe Smith robbed another person, also a plant worker, at the same gas station on Dec. 29 around 4:30 a.m. A witness told police that Smith approached a man with a gun and that they struggled before Smith fled the scene.

Smith’s police record documents a history arrests for violence, armed robbery, drugs and domestic abuse. He is being held in the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center on a bond of $3.5 million.


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