Jury selected in Koula trial - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Jury selected in Koula trial

Posted: Updated: June 4, 2012 03:01 PM CDT

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – 50 potential jurors were brought before the District Attorney and the Eric Koula defense team Monday, with all of them required to answer questions one by one from the witness stand.

Seated directly across from them was Eric Koula, along with his family.

"Jurors don't like to be singled out," said defense attorney Ellen Thorn.

"They're not going to volunteer they have knowledge of the case or that they've formed an opinion about it," she added. "So you really have to ask open ended questions to make them feel comfortable."

"The first question I'd ask is ‘have you formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of this individual?'" said Luis Delgado, also a defense attorney.

"Can you lay aside what you've heard in the media and judge the case not what by you've heard outside the courtroom, but solely on the facts within the courtroom," he said.

Lawyers Monday found 15 jurors they now believe will do just that.

The standard twelve were chosen along with three alternates due to the length of the trial – which is scheduled to last for one month.

"It's not law and order," Thorn said. "There's a whole bunch of testimony and stuff that goes on."

"It's emotionally taxing," Thorn added. "You have a highly charged situation. It's hard for anybody to concentrate that long."

"A long case obviously brings some concerns, not the least of which is the ability of jurors to pay attention," said Delgado.

"Because every little piece of evidence may be cumulative as to the guilt or innocence of the accused," he said.

Jurors will hear opening statements Tuesday morning before then doing a walk through of the crime scene in the afternoon.

They will then begin hearing testimony from what could be upwards of 80 witnesses, which the defense said will include Koula himself.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - UPDATE: 2:50PM - Jury selection in the Eric Koula trial takes another step forward. 

WXOW's Pete Zervakis reports that of the 50 people questioned today, 36 were deemed acceptable to the prosecution and defense.

The next step is to bring them back into the courtroom for more questioning in an effort to whittle the number of jurors down to the needed number.

Koula, wearing a button down dress shirt and black slacks, is in the courtroom with his wife and other family members.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - UPDATE: 2:30PM - Jury selection continues Monday afternoon in the trial for Eric Koula.

The forty-fourth potential juror was interviewed a short time ago.  Once questioning resumed following a lunch break, two more people were dismissed.

If a jury is chosen Monday, opening arguments are set for tomorrow, followed by visit by the jury to the Barre Mills home where Dennis and Merna Koula were fatally shot more than two years ago. 

Pete Zervakis will have a complete wrap up of the first day of the proceedings tonight on Live at Five and the 6pm Report. 


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - After nearly two years, the trial of Eric Koula is underway. 

Koula and his attorneys arrived in Judge Scott Horne's courtroom shortly before 830am. 

Potential jury members are being kept behind closed doors during the selection process.  Each will be called individually into the courtroom for questioning by lawyers for both the prosecution and defense. 

So far, six people have been brought in for questions. One person did indicate a possible opinion of the guilt of Koula, while another was a former client of defense attorney Jim Koby.  That person was released from duty.     

Koula's wife is sitting behind him in the courtroom.

You can follow wxow.com for updates throughout the days of the trial.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The trial of Eric Koula begins Monday in La Crosse County court.

Koula is charged with two counts of first degree intentional homicide in the shooting deaths of his parents, Dennis and Merna. The pair was found by Eric himself, who called police to report the bodies on May 24, 2010.

"After Merna arrived home she was working at her computer," said La Crosse County Sheriff Steve Helgeson following the discovery.

"We believe she was working at her computer sometime between 5:30 pm and 6 pm when she was fatally shot, and we believe Dennis was shot immediately as he entered the house," he added.  

Police determined both were shot in the head on the evening of May 21.

Merna's last keystroke on the computer came at 5:41 pm.

Dennis worked almost one hour from the couple's home in Barre Mills, and witnesses at work said he left for the day at roughly 5 pm.

Police determined his time of death was just before 6:00.

In the trial expected to last through June 29, the Prosecution will attempt to demonstrate Eric Koula had motive to commit the killings.

Koula, a struggling day trader from West Salem, had lost it all playing the stock market.

On May 22, he cashed a check written by his father for $50-thousand, but Dennis's signature was later determined to be a forgery.

But while this may demonstrate Koula had reason to shoot his parents, prosecutors lack an eyewitness or stereotypical "smoking gun" to definitively put Eric at the crime scene.

"This appears to be a circumstantial case," said defense attorney Ellen Thorn, a former public defender.

"The defense has to be able to have a story and an explanation that will convince the jury that there's no way (Eric) would ever do that," Thorn said.

"However they also have to make sure the jury understands that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defense doesn't have the job of proving his innocence," she said.  

"The way I believe the prosecution will go about trying to prove that (Eric) is guilty is by taking the timeline," said defense attorney and former prosecutor Luis Delgado.

"Where was the defendant at the time of death?" Delgado said. "Can he account for his whereabouts?"

Koula's trial begins with jury selection on Monday morning.

The jury is then expected to do a supervised walk-through of the crime scene on Tuesday.

For updates from the courtroom, you can follow News 19's Pete Zervakis on Twitter at @WXOW_Zervakis.

You can also do Twitter search for the hash tag #Koula.

Powered by Frankly