Questions on money at Koula trial as state rests case - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Questions on money at Koula trial as state rests their case

Posted: Updated: June 14, 2012 01:54 PM CDT
Details of Koula's financial life were brought before the jury during testimony from CPA Mary Jo Werner Details of Koula's financial life were brought before the jury during testimony from CPA Mary Jo Werner

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – In January 2010, Eric Koula and his wife received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service, to which they owed some $40-thousand.

"Urgent, we intend to levy on certain assets. Please respond now," said accountant Mary Jo Werner, reading the letter while on the witness stand in court Thursday.

More letters came in March.

"Call immediately to prevent property loss," Werner read.

The prosecution argued such letters were a microcosm of Koula's financial status in the years leading up to the homicides of his parents, Dennis and Merna.

The District Attorney paid Werner, a CPA and partner at WIPFLi Financial, to review Koula's finances.

She testified Wednesday and Thursday that Koula continuously took out high-interest loans and cash advances – like a $3-thousand dollar auto title loan at 150% interest.

"How much did that 3-thousand dollars cost the defendant to get?" asked District Attorney Tim Gruenke.

"He paid $970.60 for the loan for three months," Werner responded.

Werner also testified that by May, 2010, Koula had all but blown some $1.1 million in income he had collected – coming in the form of wages and gifts from his parents – that he'd received between 2004 and 2009.

But the defense called its own financial witness to the stand in the form of forensic accountant Debra Thompson.

"Were all of Eric's credit cards paid and current as of may 21, 2010?" asked defense attorney Jim Koby.

"Yes," Thompson said.  

"Were his mortgage payments paid and current as of may 21, 2010?" Koby asked.

"Yes," Thompson again responded.

Thompson added Koula had roughly $4-thousand in cash available as of mid-May, 2010, which she testified would have been enough to cover all his monthly expenses for June.

But Gruenke pointed out during cross examination that paying those bills would have used up all of Koula's cash.

The defense will continue to call witnesses Friday.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Prosecutors have rested their case in the trial of a West Salem man accused of fatally shooting his parents.

The defense has now started its phase of the trial against Eric Koula.

Prior to starting their case, Koula's defense attorneys made a motion to dismiss on the grounds the state hadn't proven their case. Presiding Judge Scott Horne turned down the motion, which is routine in criminal trials. 

They've started with a company representative for a plant grower that supplied plants and flowers to the Shopko stores where Eric Koula is supposed to have purchased a plant from.  The time he bought the plant is a key to his alibi that he could not have killed his parents as he was buying a plant for his wife on their anniversary.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Despite the fact that Eric Koula made $1 million between 2004-2009, he had only $3,300 in assets available to him as of May, 2010 according to testimony from a financial expert for the prosecution.

Thursday's testimony came from Mary Jo Werner, who continues to detail the financial life of Eric Koula.  Koula was a day trader in stocks prior to his arrest for the shooting of his parents in their Barre Mills home in 2010.

According to testimony, most of the income for Eric Koula came from gifts from Dennis Koula, his father.

It is the prosecution's theory that Dennis and Merna Koula were planning to stop giving money to their son that lead to their deaths.

Werner's testimony included the facts that Koula was late on mortgage and credit card payments several times. The Internal Revenue Service also started sending letters threatening to levy Koula's assets starting in January, 2010. 

You can watch the trial live at

Pete Zervakis will also have more on the trial on Live at Five, the 6pm and 10pm Reports.

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