Calgary

Backroads where body dumped mentioned by accused murderer 6 weeks before remains found

The man on trial for Jessica Newman's murder said he was being falsely accused of driving the same backroads where her body would be found two months later, before police had any idea where the missing woman had been dumped.

Kevin Rubletz is on trial for 2nd-degree murder in the death of Jessica Newman, 24

Kevin Rubletz, 32, is on trial for 2nd-degree murder in the 2015 death of his former girlfriend, Jessica Newman, 24. (CBC)

The man on trial for Jessica Newman's murder said he was being falsely accused of driving the same backroads where her body would be found two months later, before police had any idea where the missing woman had been dumped.

Police were frantically searching for Newman, 24, on March 23, 2015, when Kevin Rubletz told his boss, Timothy Lambert, that Newman's mother had told police "he was driving the backroads at Cross Iron Mills Mall" the night she disappeared.

Lambert testified at Rubletz's second-degree murder trial on Wednesday.

Rubletz and Newman had a son together who was two years old when she disappeared on March 10, 2015. Her body was found two months later on May 4.

Rubletz had been working as an installer for Lambert's countertop company for about a month. 

Despite telling investigators he had lost his cellphone so was unable to hand it over for examination, Rubletz told Lambert he was unable to show up for his shift because he was with police who had taken his phone.

The same day, Rubletz showed up at Lambert's home around 7 p.m. to drop off tools, telling his boss that police would be seizing his van and he didn't want them to take the tools.

Under examination, Lambert agreed with defence counsel Brendan Miller that Rubletz had said his lawyer told him his van was probably going to be seized.

But police did not seize the van from Rubletz. Jurors have heard evidence that six weeks later, he day after Newman's body was discovered, investigators tracked the van to a pick-and-pull where it had been taken by the accused's mother, stepfather and grandmother.

Rubletz's sister testifies 

Earlier in the day, jurors heard evidence from Rubletz's sister Nicole, whom he was living with at the time of Newman's disappearance.

Rubletz was the last person to see Jessica Newman on the night she disappeared. He told police he picked her up from work, took her for a coffee and then dropped her at her home around 9:30 p.m. before driving himself home.

In a subsequent interview, he told police he drove to Balzac and back to "clear his head."

Nicole Rubletz told police her brother arrived home at 11:24 p.m. the night Newman disappeared. But in a second statement a year later, she said her clock was ahead about 45 minutes.

The former couple had a court hearing on March 11, when Rubletz was to support Newman in requesting 50 per cent custody. She never showed up.

Trial winding down

On Wednesday morning, Det. Wayne Birks finished his testimony, which began the day before.

Birks was also involved in the investigation when Newman was still considered a missing person. He interviewed Rubletz several times.

At the time, Newman was still considered a missing person, and Birks said he did not have the authority to seize the van. 

In cross-examination, Miller pointed out that Rubletz allowed Birks to look inside his van and that the officer did not see any blood or staining. 

The Crown has already indicated that forensic testing showed a "bloodletting" event took place in the vehicle and that Newman's DNA was found inside.

The trial is winding down. Prosecutors Shane Parker and Tom Spark have four witnesses left. 

Jurors will hear from the lead homicide detective and the medical examiner on Thursday. 

It's not yet known if defence lawyers Brendan Miller and Joshua Sutherland will call any witnesses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter.

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