Opening Statements Given in Koula Trial, Jury Views Crime Scene - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Opening Statements Given in Koula Trial, Jury Views Crime Scene

Eric Koula walks into court. Eric Koula walks into court.

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Eric Koula's attorneys say his relationship with his father, Dennis, was one "enviable" to families everywhere.

When Eric was little, Dennis used to see him and say, "How you doing, kiddo?" according to Koula defense lawyer Jim Koby, and Koby said that phrase characterized the father and son's relationship until the latter found the former shot once in the head on May 24, 2010.

Tuesday was day one of Eric Koula's 20-day trial, in which he's charged with two counts of first degree intentional homicide in the killings of both his father and his mother Merna.

During opening statements, District Attorney Tim Gruenke said Koula is "a man of secrets," who hid his financial problems from everyone who knew him.

The day after his parents' deaths, on May 22, Koula cashed a $50-thousand dollar check from his father.

But Gruenke said the State will call forth a witness from the Milwaukee Crime Lab to prove both that Dennis's signature on the check was a forgery, and that Eric was the one responsible.

"Police were suspicious because he had never said anything about this check in interviews," Gruenke said. "It's dated the day of the parents' death, and it's for a large amount of money."

But the defense said Eric was authorized by his parents to sign that check, and Jim Koby, one of Koula's lawyers, said the prosecution's alleged motive of money is non-extent.

Koby said Koula was up to date with all of his bills the month of the murders.

To conclude his opening statement, Koby then said it is physically inconceivable that Koula committed the crimes.

The state alleges that Merna died at her computer, with her last keystroke on the keyboard coming at 5:41 pm.

But Koby said one of Koula's friends will testify Koula was at his house on Loomis Street, in La Crosse, until 5:30 pm on May 21.

That would leave Koula roughly 10 minutes to drive to Barre Mills and shoot his mother.

"There's no physical evidence, there's no motive and there's no opportunity," Koby said.

"Once you have the whole story, you're going to conclude not that Eric wouldn't do this, but also that it was impossible for him to do it," Koby told the jury.   

Following opening statements, the jury walked through the crime scene.

The media was not allowed inside, but the jurors finished the viewing in less than 10 minutes.

Some 86 witnesses are expected to take the stand during Koula's trial, with several officers from the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department testifying Tuesday evening.

Testimony will resume Wednesday morning.

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