Defense lays groundwork for Koula alibi - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Defense lays groundwork for Koula alibi


La Crosse, WI (WXOW)-- UPDATE-- The second week of the Eric Koula trial wrapped up today.

Eric is accused of killing his parents, Dennis and Merna Koula at their home in Barre Mills back in May of 2010.

The state says his motive was to collect an inheritance after racking up more than $50,000 in credit card debt. 

Eric's movements on May 21, 2010, the day investigators say the Koulas were shot, have been a focal point of the trial.

Eric maintains he helped a friend tile a bathroom until 5:30, then went to two different Shopkos in search of a plant.

Today, Eric's friend Michael Genz Jr. testified in support of Eric's alibi.

"He said he left the Loomis street house and went to Shopko Bridgeview Plaza, then proceeded to Shopko Onalaska and then went home," Genz said.

But Genz's memory of the night changed since he spoke to investigators on July 29, 2010, the day Eric was arrested.

"In that conversation you said that Eric Koula left the address between 5 and 5:30 PM on May 21, 2010. Correct?" Tim Gruenke, the La Crosse County District Attorney asked on cross examination.

"Correct," Genz said.

Genz says he later remembered it was 5:30 that he and Eric left the house on Loomis Street. Genz says he knows it was 5:30 because he made it to his favorite bar in time for the very end of happy hour, which wraps up at 6.

But the prosecution is skeptical and believes Koula left before 5:30, and had time to commit the two murders before going home.

"Your memory today now has gotten better and you remember that it was 5:30, is that what your testimony is?" Gruenke said.

"The 29th is when I remembered, because that's when I really sat and thought about I was when I left and we left at the same time," Genz said.

"You just testified that on the 29th you told agents that it was between 5 and 5:30," Gruenke said.

Still, throughout his testimony, Genz remained adamant that Eric did not leave the Loomis street house before 5:30.

If convicted Koula faces life in prison.


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - It's day 10 of the Eric Koula trial. The defense began presenting their case yesterday, and continued this morning with testimony from Mary Lou and James Markos, friends of Dennis and Merna Koula.  

The defense also called Douglas Beaver to the stand. Dennis Koula worked for Beaver. Beaver testified that Dennis did not complain about giving Eric money and that Dennis and Eric were close. 

Also on the stand today, Michael Genz Jr., the friend Eric was with on the day investigators say Dennis and Merna Koula were shot. Genz testified that he and Eric were tiling a bathroom at a residence on Loomis Street until 5:30.  

Genz says he then went to the L & M Tavern, just in time for the end of happy hour, and Eric went to Shopko to buy a plant for his wife. Genz says the next time he saw Eric, he mentioned having to go to two Shopkos to find that plant.  Genz also testified that both he and Eric were dirty from tiling.  Investigators found no signs of tiling grout at the crime scene.  They did not check Koula's vehicle for grout trace.

On cross examination, prosecutors were able to poke holes in Genz' credibility by bringing his statements to investigators during interviews in May and July that Koula and Genz left between 5 and 5:30pm.  

Judge Horne also indicated the trial is ahead of schedule and testimony is expected to wrap up at the end of next week. Horne said he'd like to see closing arguments Monday, June 25 and then he will sequester the jury for deliberations.

We'll have more on today's proceedings on Live at Five, the 6pm, and 10pm Reports.

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