OPELOUSAS — Jurors in a cold case murder trial listened to a taped interview Tuesday in which an Opelousas man accused of stabbing a woman to death 27 years ago denied he had ever met the victim.
Joenell Rubin, 45, who is on trial for first-degree murder, also told then-Opelousas police Detective Dwain Grimmett during one interview shortly before his 2012 arrest that he never had sex with Brenda Dupont, whose partially nude body was found by investigators on May 21, 1988.
Rubin was booked on first-degree murder and aggravated rape of Dupont, who died at the age of 29, after enhanced DNA testing indicated the semen found inside her body matched Rubin’s DNA.
Rubin had been incarcerated in the city jail in 2012 when investigators received his consent to obtain a DNA swab, which was sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.
He was indicted by a St. Landry Parish grand jury in July 2012 on first-degree murder, but not on aggravated rape, in the case.
Both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases late Tuesday evening, shortly after the jurors heard audio tapes of then-Detectives Ronnie Trahan and Grimmett interviewing Rubin at the Opelousas Police Department.
State District Judge Alonzo Harris told jurors the trial will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. with closing arguments.
Three tapes were presented in court Tuesday as part of the prosecution’s case.
In the final interview, taped on March 29, 2012, Rubin becomes animated and somewhat incredulous when Grimmett tells him he is being arrested on first-degree murder and aggravated rape.
“You charging me with a murder? Are you serious? How can you charge me? Show me the proof. C’mon man, you’re kidding,” Rubin said before he was handcuffed by Grimmett.
Grimmett responded: “The proof is inside that (Dupont’s) house, proof that you were there. DNA that matched her with you. Your DNA is inside her.”
Rubin on Tuesday conferred with his attorney for several minutes before the defense rested its case, but he did not testify.
Grimmett testified he started researching the Dupont slaying as part of several cold cases assigned to him by then-Police Chief Perry Gallow.
Grimmett said he contacted George Schiro, with the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab, and “I asked if he could go back and find something to help us.”
Grimmett testified Schiro called back at some point to report he had discovered a DNA “hit.”
He testified he also interviewed several other people who were associated with Dupont’s older sister, Linda Nicholas, or with Dupont.
Grimmett did not say why people other than Rubin were excluded as suspects.