Prosecutors can ask for the death penalty if they obtain a murder conviction in the case of a Kernersville man accused of stabbing a woman to death and later admitting his alleged crimes to Washington police, a judge ruled on Monday.
Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court granted a request from prosecutors to pursue the death penalty against Jaron Allen Kubler, 30, of Loradale Drive. Kubler is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and obtaining property by false pretenses.
Indictments allege that he kidnapped Kayla Melissa Dubuque and stabbed her to death on Jan. 4, 2019. Authorities said that Kubler drove afterward to Washington, where he told Metropolitan Police that he had killed a woman and left her body at his apartment. Metropolitan police contacted Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies, who went to Kubler’s apartment and found Dubuque’s body on Jan. 6, 2019.
According to an autopsy report, Dubuque died from multiple stab wounds to her head and neck.
Monday, Burke held what is known as a Rule 24 hearing. Assistant District Attorney Alison Nicole Lester presented three out of a potential 11 aggravating factors aimed at justifying the pursuit of the death penalty — that Kubler had previously been convicted of a violent felony, that Dubuque was murdered while Kubler was committing another felony, and that her murder was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.
Kubler served a maximum of four years after he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury in Greene County. He was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder in that case. He also served nearly six years for an armed robbery conviction in Rockingham County.
Kubler signed a plea transcript on Monday in which he offered to plead guilty to first-degree murder and accept a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But Lester did not accept the offer, saying that prosecutors intend to pursue the death penalty, which would require a trial.
Jerry Jordan, Kubler’s attorney, said Kubler’s constitutional rights would be violated because of Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s various orders delaying jury trials in response to COVID-19. Currently, no jury trials are scheduled until October.
Burke, the senior resident superior court judge for Forsyth County, said he is considering the possibility of delaying Forsyth jury trials until January 2021.
He also said that Kubler’s constitutional rights have not yet been violated and delays in court functions are necessary to blunt the spread of COVID-19.
Search warrants allege that Dubuque worked as a prostitute and that Kubler had paid to have sex with her on several different occasions. Search warrants also said that a sheriff’s deputy who went to the apartment found Dubuque with a towel covering her face.
Deputies reported finding “multiple types of drug paraphernalia and powdery residue suspicious for an illicit drug” in the apartment, according to the autopsy report.
Search warrants said Kubler told investigators that he had used cocaine before killing Dubuque and that, afterward, he drove to a friend’s house and then to Washington on Jan. 5, 2019. That friend reportedly told investigators that Kubler was wearing flip-flops with a red substance on them.
According to search warrants, investigators found two cellphones — one belonging to Dubuque and the other belonging to Kubler — on the bed, along with a knife. Authorities said in the search warrants that they believed the knife was the murder weapon.
Deputies seized two knives from the apartment, however — a black handle pocket knife and a bone handle knife with a sheath. The search warrants didn’t say which knife investigators found on the bed.
Investigators also sought to search a laptop computer Kubler is accused of pawning in Kernersville, though the laptop did not belong to him.
Detectives with the sheriff’s office have also searched his car, a 1997 White Pontiac Grand Prix, for a bloody shirt Kubler told investigators he was wearing before he changed into a cleaner one. It’s not clear if they found the shirt.
Kubler is in the Forsyth County Jail with no bond allowed.
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