Jerel Smith-Ryan Dubuc mugs

Murder convict Jerel Smith, left; and victim Ryan Dubuc

A Luling man recently convicted of murdering and robbing an electrician from Metairie repeatedly interrupted the victim’s two younger brothers as they spoke at a sentencing hearing Thursday.

In the end, Judge Lauren Lemmon of St. Charles Parish’s 29th Judicial District Court sentenced Jerel Smith to life imprisonment plus 99 years for the slaying of 28-year-old Ryan Dubuc, prosecutors said.

The life sentence was the mandatory punishment Smith faced after he was found guilty of murder at a trial that concluded May 11. The additional 99-year stretch was the maximum punishment allowed under state law for his being found guilty of armed robbery as well.

Smith hurled profanities and at one point had to be restrained during the sentencing hearing.  

St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson said one of more than 40 letters sent to Lemmon ahead of Smith’s sentencing best summarized the devastation caused by the defendant, who killed Dubuc after the victim gave him a ride away from a gasoline station on Jan. 9, 2017.

“Jerel Smith ‘obliterated the heart of the Dubuc family’ when he senselessly and selfishly murdered Ryan Dubuc, who was trying to help him,” Chaisson said. “Nothing can bring Ryan back, but it is my hope that his family will gain some peace in knowing that Jerel Smith will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Investigators found Dubuc’s corpse in a ditch near the Hahnville wastewater plant and his truck abandoned and bloodied in a sugar cane field several miles away in LaPlace.

Using surveillance video and statements from employees at the business, investigators established that Dubuc had withdrawn about $80 from an ATM at a gas station in Luling.

The 2006 Archbishop Rummel High School graduate was on his way to work and agreed to give Smith, a stranger, a ride from the gas station — only to have Smith shoot him shortly after the ride began, authorities said.

Detectives also accused Smith of a Dec. 29, 2016, robbery at the same gas station. But he was not tried on that allegation when a jury convicted him of Dubuc’s killing.

Besides his brothers, Dubuc’s mother also addressed Lemmon before the judge handed Smith his punishment, Chaisson said.

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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