LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The trial of Eric Koula, the West Salem Day trader accused of killing his parents at their Barre Mills home in on May 21, 2010, resumed Monday at the La Crosse County Courthouse.
The state alleges Koula's motive was to collect an inheritance and solve his own financial problems.
At the time of the alleged homicides, Koula was a day trader with no stable source of income.
Arguably the most damning piece of evidence against Koula is a $50-thousand dollar check he deposited on May 22 – the day after the state argues his parents, Dennis and Merna, were each killed with a single, gunshot wound to the head.
The check was signed by Dennis, made out to Eric and dated May 21.
While on the stand Monday, forensic document examiner Jane A. Lewis, a witness for the state, confirmed the check was a forgery.
"When people write, usually there aren't major design differences in the letters," Lewis said. "So seeing unnatural design differences is suspicious in this case."
"The person who wrote this was trying to make it look like Dennis Koula's genuine signature but didn't do a good job," she said.
During opening statements, defense attorney Jim Koby admitted Koula signed his father's name on the check – but added his client had permission to do so.
Also on the stand Monday was Glen Grady, a close friend of Dennis and Merna's.
Grady said he took some 15 vacations with the Koula's, and often ate dinner at their home.
He testified that, being so close to the family, he felt obligated to stop in and visit Eric following the homicides.
But Grady said during that visit Eric shifted the conversation to a rather bizarre topic.
"You don't really know, when somebody's lost their parents, what they're going to say," Grady said.
"But the one thing he did say that, in retrospect, concerned me at the time was he had just brought back a box with Dennis and Merna's personal papers in it and he had a copy of the will," he added.
"(Eric) said, ‘Glen, this is the wrong will, it's dated in 1997. My parents made a new one. I know because I had to sign it about 11 times,'" Grady said.