Kevin Rubletz's lawyer points to mother, stepfather as killers as murder trial winds down

Kevin Rubletz's lawyer points to mother, stepfather as killers as murder trial winds down

It wasn't Kevin Rubletz who killed his former girlfriend Jessica Newman by stabbing her 75 times. It was his mother and stepfather, Calgary defence lawyer Brendan Miller told jurors on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Day 10 of Rubletz's second-degree murder trial, jurors heard lawyers Brendan Miller and Josh Sutherland's defence for the first time through an opening statement and a witness before the defence rested.

Jessica Newman was last seen in March 2015. It would be two months before her body was found in a rural ditch near Balzac wearing a sweatshirt belonging to Rubletz's mother. The medical examiner has already testified she suffered 75 stab wounds. 

On March 10, 2015, Rubletz picked up Newman from work and the two had coffee while reviewing her Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) papers ahead of a family court hearing the next day when the 24-year-old mother was planning to apply for 50 per cent custody of their son.

Those AA papers were found in Newman's room by police days later, which defence suggests shows she returned home after being dropped off by Rubletz.

Prosecutors Shane Parker and Tom Spark told jurors it is the Crown's theory that Newman was killed in a van owned by Rubletz's mother but driven by the accused at the time of Newman's disappearance.

After Newman's body was discovered in May 2015, investigators tracked the van to a salvage yard where it had been taken by Rubletz's mother, stepfather and grandmother.

Defence also called one witness, John Pfleger, who said he saw Newman on March 11, 2015, wearing the same clothing she was last seen in the night before.

Pfleger was driving to his home in Applewood when he says he spotted a young woman he believed to be Newman. 

She stuck out in his mind because she was a "pretty girl standing on a street corner."

"I got a chill," Pfleger told defence lawyer Josh Sutherland. "She seemed out of place in that neighbourhood."

A week later when Pfleger spotted the missing person bulletin with Newman's photo and description, he called Crime Stoppers. 

"I didn't feel they were very interested," he said. Nobody called him back.

In the coming weeks, Pfleger called the Calgary Police Service twice more to report what he'd seen but still felt police weren't interested. When the missing persons detective finally returned his call, he was told the investigation had taken a different direction.

Trial winding down 

Miller told jurors Rubletz's mother had issues with Newman's drinking habits and didn't want her to have 50/50 custody of her two-year-old son.

But jurors have also heard that long before Newman's body was found near Balzac — when Rubletz was told by police they could track his driving route by GPS — he told officers he'd driven the backroads near the CrossIron Mills shopping centre. 

A forensic expert testified Monday that a "bloodletting" incident took place in the vehicle and that Newman's DNA was found inside.

Newman and Rubletz had an on-again, off-again relationship. At the time of her death, they were seeing other people but had also been exchanging messages of "romance, sex and love" between December 2014 and March 2015.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Glen Poelman will hear closing arguments in the trial Wednesday afternoon.