Jerel Smith, the 32-year-old Luling man arrested and charged with murdering Metairie’s Ryan Dubuc in 2017 for $80 cash, was found guilty Friday of second degree murder and armed robbery.
The jury delivered a unanimous verdict after less than an hour of deliberation, bringing a five-day trial to an end.
Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14 and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison on the second degree murder conviction and a sentence up to 99 years for armed robbery. The sentences are to be served without benefit of parole, probation or suspension. Judge Lauren Lemmon ordered Smith be held without bond pending his sentencing.
“To say I am happy with the verdict handed down today would be an understatement,” said Joel Chaisson II, St. Charles Parish District Attorney. “Jerel Smith’s actions on Jan. 9, 2017 were evil, callous and calculated.
“These cases are never easy to prosecute, but through the hard work and dedication of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives and my prosecutors, our community and Mr. Dubuc’s family can take comfort in knowing that Jerel Smith will now pay for his crime by spending the rest of his life in prison.”
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said Dubuc was “robbed and brutally murdered for as little as $80″ following Smith’s arrest. The Sheriff’s Office mobilized an intense investigation that led to the Jan. 11 arrest. Champagne said a S.W.A.T. team arrested Smith at his mother’s residence.
Detectives said Dubuc was shot four times in the head at close range. He 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.
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.