Joenell Rubin: Where is Brenda DuPont’s Killer Now?

Brenda DuPont lived just a few houses away from her sister while going through a tough time and working to regain custody of her daughter. One morning in May 1988, Brenda didn’t answer the door when her nephew knocked and was later found dead in the house. The police pursued many leads, but none were successful until July 2012, when a man named Joenell Rubin was charged with the murder. He lived in the same neighborhood in Opelousas, Louisiana, as Brenda and her family and was friends with one of her children. A&E’s ‘Cold Case Files’ episode ‘Killer in the Storm’ details the police work that led to his arrest, conviction, and subsequent imprisonment.

Joenell Rubin Was a Friend of His Victim’s Niece

In May 1988, Joenell Rubin was living in Opelousas, Louisiana, and was notorious for being involved in petty crimes. He occasionally visited the house of Linda Nicholas, as he was on good terms with one of her daughters. On the afternoon of May 21, 1988, while Linda’s sister, Brenda DuPont, who lived a few houses away, was also visiting, Rubin was at the house. He began playing with a knife, ignoring Linda’s requests to stop. Upset by his behavior, Linda asked him to leave the house immediately.

Brenda left her sister’s home around 7 pm, allowing Rubin to enter her bedroom through a window in her backyard. Prosecutors claim he had the same knife he had taken from Linda’s home. Upon entering, he overpowered Brenda, sexually assaulted her and then stabbed her multiple times. Afterward, he fled the house, leaving it in disarray, with a mattress tilted on top of the victim. When Brenda was found dead, the police narrowed down a few suspects, and Rubin was one of them.

Rubin was brought in for questioning by the police and provided an alibi, stating that he was with a friend on the night of the murder. However, the police never verified his alibi and failed to uncover any further leads. They had collected DNA samples from the crime scene and Brenda’s body, but due to the lack of advanced technology for precise matching at the time, the evidence was not helpful. Despite no other developments, Brenda’s family remained persistent in urging the police to reopen the case, and their determination finally paid off in 2012.

With a newly formed cold case unit focusing on Brenda DuPont’s murder, the DNA retrieved from her body was checked against the police database, leading to a match with Rubin. To the police’s surprise, he was already being held in the county jail on domestic abuse charges. The police re-examined his alibi, who then revealed that Rubin had not been with her on the night of the murder. He was brought in for questioning, during which he completely denied involvement in the crime.

The interrogation lasted three days, and on July 19, 2012, Rubin was charged with first-degree murder while in the commission of the aggravated rape. He was incredulous when he was informed of the charge. He said, “You charging me with a murder? Are you serious? How can you charge me? Show me the proof. C’mon man, you’re kidding.”

Joenell Rubin is Serving a Life Sentence Today

Joenell Rubin’s trial began on January 25, 2016. The prosecutors presented their case, with Linda Nicholas testifying against him, recounting how he had been in her house on the night of the murder and how she had kicked him out. She theorized that he might have been angry and, seeing Brenda DuPont as a petite woman who could be easily overpowered, committed the crime. In his defense, his lawyers argued that even if his DNA was found on Brenda’s body, there was no evidence placing him inside her house on the night of the murder. They further alleged that the relationship between Rubin and Brenda had been consensual.

The jury deliberated for three hours before finding Rubin guilty of first-degree murder. His sentencing was scheduled for February 18, 2016, when he was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefits, with credit for time served since his arrest. In 2017, He approached the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, arguing that the circumstantial evidence presented did not prove his guilt and that exculpatory and self-serving statements were included in the trial. However, the appeal was not given any merit. Now, about 53 years old, Rubin is being held under the Louisiana Department of Corrections. The details of his parole eligibility are not currently available to the public.

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